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by Brett Larner
In the absence of distance running events, men's javelin thrower Yukifumi Murakami turned in the best Japanese performance of the day at the Berlin World Championships. Murakami threw a PB of 83.10 to win his qualification group and was ranked second overall after the completion of the round. A javelin medal in the final would be completely unexpected but more than welcome to the Japanese national team, which with the exception of women's 5000 m and 10000 m runner Yurika Nakamura has thus far underperformed.
The day's other strong Japanese performance came unsurprisingly in the men's 4x100 m relay, in which Japan won a bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics. With only two members of the Beijing team still active, this year's squad featured new blood Masashi Eriguchi and Kenji Fujimitsu teaming up with medalists Naoki Tsukahara and Shinji Takahira. The new team finished 2nd in its heat in 38.53 despite a sloppy exchange between veterans Tsukahara and Takahira, credibly advancing to the final.
The darkest moment of the day came in the men's 50 km race walk, where medal contender Yuki Yamazaki and teammate Takayuki Tanii were both disqualified. The team's third member, Koichiro Morioka, was only 18th in 3:56:21.
The only Japanese field athlete of the day, first-time World Championships entrant Sachiko Masumi, was eliminated in the qualification round of the women's long jump with a mark of 6.23.
(c) 2009 Brett Larner
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