Friday, May 7, 2010

Sendai International Half Marathon, Osaka Grand Prix and More

by Brett Larner

It's a big weekend in Japan with three major events across the country. The biggest is no doubt the Osaka Grand Prix Meet on May 8. Most events feature the standing Japanese national champion or national record holder along with international competition including Veronica Campbell-Brown (Jamaica, 100 m), Andrew Hinds (Barbados, 100 m), Monzavous Edwards (U.S.A., 200 m), Mounir Yemmouni (France, 1500 m), Doricah Obare (Kenya, 5000 m), Perdita Felicien (Canada, 100 mH), Bershawn Jackson (U.S.A., 400 mH), Christian Cantwell (U.S.A., SP), and Becky Breisch (U.S.A., DT). A complete entry list is available here. One notable withdrawal is the meet's biggest star, Chinese hurdler Xiang Liu.

Also on May 8 is the first of the regional spring corporate track meets, the Central Japan Corporate Track and Field Championships. This weekend's events include the men's and women's 5000 m, with the 10000 m scheduled for next weekend. Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku) headlines the men's race, facing Kenyans Joseph Gitau (Team JFE Steel) and Samuel Ganga (Team Mazda) as well as his young teammates Hideaki Date, Takuya Ishikawa and Naoki Okamoto. Kenyan Danielle Filomena Cheyech (Team Uniqlo) should have no trouble in the women's 5000 m, where her toughest competition comes from Team Tenmaya's Rei Obara and Kaori Urata.

Sunday, May 9 sees the Sendai International Half Marathon. The race has been billed as the highly-anticipated debut of 10 mile junior world record holder Martin Mathathi (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC), but although he is listed as an entrant his name appears on neither the start list nor the list of withdrawals. If he starts, look for a threat to Samuel Wanjiru's Japanese all-comers record. If not, it is up to ailing Kenyan Mekubo Mogusu (Team Aidem) to turn in his first good performance of the year and get back under the hour mark. The Japanese contingent is led by Yukihiro Kitaoka (Team NTN), the top Japanese man at last year's World Half Marathon and a member of November's Asian Games marathon squad.

2009 World Championships marathoner Yoshiko Fujinaga (Team Shiseido) is the top runner in the women's race in Sendai. With the withdrawal of Kenyan Julia Mumbi (Team Universal Entertainment) and the strong Megumi Seike (Team Sysmex), Fujinaga's toughest competition may come from identical twins Yoko and Hiroko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) or Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo's Miki Ohira and Chisato Osaki.

(c) 2010 Brett Larner
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