translated by Brett Larner
At the 44th Oda Memorial Track and Field Meet at Hiroshima's Big Arch Stadium on Apr. 29, sprinter Chisato Fukushima (21, Hokkaido Hi-Tec AC) broke her own national record by 0.03 seconds, running 11.21 for her third-straight record. With a strong spring ahead of her, Fukushima's sights are set on breaking the record again and becoming the first Japanese woman to break 11. "Today was only about 70 or 80%," she said after the race. "I'm getting closer to a 10 one step at a time."
It was a convincing victory. After finishing 1st in her heat Fukushima immediately opened a 5 m lead on rival Momoko Takahashi (Heisei Kokusai Univ.) in the final and held that margin all the way to the end. When the electric display showed her time the 12000 people in attendance erupted into cheers and applause. "I was surprised too," Fukushima laughed. "That was my first good start this season."
Over the winter Fukushima focused on increasing her muscle mass to develop better power. In the Beijing Olympics and last summer's World Championships she failed to advance to the finals, illustrating to her the painful gap between her level and that of the world's best. She became more focused on nutrition, eating six different dishes at all three meals every day and taking amino acid supplements before and after each practice session. As a consequence she has added 2 kg of muscle mass since last summer, going from 48 kg to 50 kg. "I've finally found my full strength," she said.
Beijing Olympics men's 4x100 m bronze medalist Nobuharu Asahara, now retired, commented, "I think we're going to see a Japanese woman run 10 before we see a man run 9." Fukushima's position at the head of that charge shows no signs of stopping.