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Asian Jr. Champ Akamatsu Wins Nat'l HS 1500 m

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translated and edited by Brett Larner

At the 2010 National High School Track and Field Championships at Okinawa Prefectural Sports Park on the island of Amami, Kojokan High School's Mahiro Akamatsu (3rd yr.) won the girls' 1500 m, holding up her right hand in victory as she crossed the line. The pace was quick right from the start, but Akamatsu remained calm and composed. "It was windy and hot," she said after the race, "but I was moving well and I was sure I could do it." With one lap to go Akamatsu dropped the rest of the leaders with an aggressive spurt which carried her to the win by a margin of nearly three seconds, clocking 4:19.80.

Akamatsu came to the championships confident from her gold medal in the 3000 m at last month's Asian Junior Games in Vietnam. Kojokan H.S. head coach Yoshiji Morimasa commented, "She's gotten mentally tough and had the confidence to run the race the way she wanted to." Having run the 1500 m as practice for the 3000 m, Akamatsu will go for the double in the 3000 m final on Aug. 2.

In the boys' 1500 m, Kenyan exchange student Michael Githinji (3rd yr.) of Aomori Yamada H.S. had a narrow victory to take his second-straight 1500 m title. "Aomori is cool since it's up north, but I didn't expect it to be this hot here!" he laughed after the race, which took place on the first day of full-blown subtropical Amami summer heat. Launching his last attack with 300 m to go, Githinji drew even with leader Genki Yagisawa (3rd yr.) of Nasu Takuyo H.S. The pair ran side by side down the home stretch, Githinji outleaning Yagisawa to win in 3:46.48 by a margin of just 0.02 seconds. Aomori Yamada head coach Tsutomu Nikaido told reporters, "He's been doing great work all season, so I was confident he would win here."

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