translated by Brett Larner
On Apr. 1 Suzuki launched a new track and field team, "Suzuki Hamamatsu AC," to replace its former corporate-league Team Suzuki. The new club is officially registered with Rikuren, allowing its members to compete in the National Championships, the Japan Grand Prix Series and other national-level events as well as to shoot for national team membership at the World Championships, Asian Games and Olympics.
The club consists of 25 athletes including 2009 World Championships men's javelin bronze medalist Yukifumi Murakami and women's javelin team member Yuki Ebihara. The men's distance squad, always powerful at past years' New Year Ekiden, will now be turning its sights toward the marathon. 2007 World Championships men's 10000 m bronze medalist and 10 mile junior world record holder Martin Mathathi (Kenya) is planning to run his debut half marathon this season with a marathon debut planned for next year. He is aiming for a spot on the Kenyan marathon team at the London Olympics.
The 25 athletes will continue to be employees of the Suzuki company but will go along with the shift in emphasis accompanying the move to a club-based organization. The club will seek to have an increased involvement with the community in the western part of Shizuoka prefecture, working to help spread the popularity of track and field among students and individual company workers who run on their own. The club includes a coaching and management staff of 9 and is based at the Suzuki headquarters in Hamamatsu. Athletes will continue to use the same yellow-colored uniforms from the Team Suzuki era. Murakami is scheduled to compete at the National Invitational Meet on April 24 while Ebihara will start her season at May's Shizuoka International Meet.