Skip to main content

Ojima Ready for Beppu-Oita Last Run

http://www.nishinippon.co.jp/nsp/item/150060

translated by Brett Larner

Sunday's Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon will be the final run for one of the country's best, 1999 Seville World Championships marathoner Tadayuki Ojima (33, Team Asahi Kasei). For 15 years he has been a force in the Japanese marathon and ekiden circuit, ranked all-time #3 in the Kyushu Isshu Ekiden with a lifetime total of 38 stage best titles, running in the World Championships and narrowly missing out on the Athens Olympics but always remaining quietly focused on challenging his own limits. Now, his strength spent, he prepares for retirement with a deep feeling of gratitude toward the people of Kyushu. His final 42.195 km will be his way of saying thank you. "I've given it everything I have for 15 years," Ojima says. "Really, I just don't have anything left to give."

"He doesn't waste words on excuses," says Team Asahi Kasei head coach Takeshi Soh. "He just does the training and then races. Even when I tell him to stop he doesn't give up. That's why I call him Asahi Kasei's Last Samurai." In an era of soft modern marathoners who are quick to sit out a workout if it hurts or to make excuses when they are beaten, it is the highest praise Soh can give of Ojima and the discipline with which he approached his running.

Ojima joined Asahi Kasei in 1995 after graduating from Hyogo's Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S., following his older brother Muneyuki, who retired two years ago. Together the Ojima brothers formed the team's solid backbone. In practice and in races Tadayuki Ojima devoted his entire mental and physical self to his running. Never afraid to seize an opportunity to attack, he set an example for the entire team.

In the 10-day Kyushu Isshu Ekiden Ojima took a total of 38 stage bests over his career, the third-most in history. Looking back at this achievement he says, "You have to race four times in 10 days. I think this helped me gain inner strength and toughness." Although a native of Hyogo prefecture, Ojima views the Kyushu Isshu Ekiden as instrumental to his success and chose to run his final marathon there to show his gratitude.

But Ojima's strongest memory is of the 2004 Biwako Mainichi Marathon, the final selection race for the Athens Olympic team. In that race Ojima ran 2:08:18, finishing 2nd overall as the top Japanese. Everyone at the time said, "This was an Olympic run," but a week later at the press conference announcing the Athens team Ojima's name was not on the list. In Beppu-Oita on Sunday he will face one of the runners who beat him out for a place on the Olympic team, Toshinari Suwa (Team Nissin Shokuhin). "Is it fate? I don't think so," he says. "Regardless, I want to go out with a last marathon I can be proud of. I'm going to give it what I have." For fans along the 42.195 km course, they can ask no more than for Ojima to show them his best one last time.

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Kawauchi Named Captain of Japanese National Team for London World Championships

At a JAAF event at the British Embassy in Tokyo on July 21, marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (30, Saitama Pref. Gov't) was named men's captain of the Japanese national team for next month's London World Championships. Javelin throw national record holder Yuki Ebihara (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) was chosen as women's captain.

In a wide-ranging and impassioned speech 4 minutes and 20 seconds long, Kawauchi stoked the team's morale as he told attendees, "I think that there are athletes here today who look at London as just a checkpoint along the way to the Tokyo Olympics. But as a representative of Japan it is not enough just to be there competing. I feel it strongly. You must produce results at this event, the London World Championships. This is the task assigned to each and every one of us. It is critical that we work seriously to achieve our goals. The Japanese people want nothing less. What can we as athletes do for them? More than just wearing the uniform, each of us mus…

'$500,000 USD Prized Asian Premier Marathon Series 2017-18 Launched in Beijing'

http://athleticsasia.org/index.php/k2-component/143-500-000-usd-prized-asian-premier-marathon-series-2017-18-launched-in-beijing

A very interesting World Marathon Majors-style development with prize money only for Asian athletes. Equally interesting is the absence of a Japanese race in the series. Japanese marathoners would dominate the series if they ran its three component races, their only real current competition in Asia coming from East African-born Bahraini athletes.

Hayakawa and Ichiyama Win Shibetsu Half

2nd in 2015 and 3rd last year, Tsubasa Hayakawa (Toyota) finally succeeded in scoring 1st at the Shibetsu Half Marathon, outrunning 2013-14 winner Masato Imai (Toyota Kyushu) by 6 seconds to win in 1:03:38. Hayakawa pushed it from the early stages of the race, Imai the only one to try to stay with him but ultimately losing touch. 2016 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon winner Melaku Abera (Kurosaki Harima) was 3rd in 1:03:51.

士別ハーフマラソン
日差しが強くなってきました…💦 pic.twitter.com/qRfUei3aRt — はたのまき (@machakin77) July 23, 2017
The women's field was split between two distances, 10 km and half marathon. Kanako Takemoto (Daihatsu) won the 10 km in 34:27 by a margin of almost 10 seconds over an Otsuka Seiyaku trio led by Ayaka Inoue. 2017 National Cross-Country champion and last year's 10 km runner-up Mao Ichiyama (Wacoal) took the top spot in the half marathon, outrunning teammate and national record holder Kayoko Fukushi and others to win in 1:14:01. Fukushi finished 4th in 1:15:41 behind last ye…