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Shota Iizuka Lives Up to Expectations With First-ever Japanese World Junior 200 m Gold

by Brett Larner

click here for photos of Iizuka winning gold

In May Japan Running News introduced the world to Chuo University freshman Shota Iizuka with a video of his stunning anchor run in the Kanto Regionals 4 x 100 m relay. Now he's holding Japan's first-ever World Junior Championships gold medal, taking the men's 200 m in 20.67 by a margin of 0.22 after winning both the heats and semi-finals. Iizuka also delivered another solid 4 x 100 m anchor leg earlier in the afternoon to move the Japanese team on to the final with a win in its heat. Whether he can single-handedly carry the relay team to another gold medal is questionable, but his 200 m gold secures his place as the man to watch in Japanese sprinting.

Overall it was the best day of World Juniors so far for the Japanese team. Men's 400 m hurdler Takatoshi Abe brought his best, running a PB 49.46 for silver after leading the heats and semi-finals with season-best times. Abe missed gold by only 0.16 behind Trinidad and Tobago's powerful Jehue Gordon. Ranked only 6th going into competition, Genki Dean continued Japan's surprising men's javelin renaissance with an unexpected silver medal thanks to a PB throw of 76.44. Men's high jumper Naoto Tobe won bronze with a season-best jump of 2.21 to bring Japan's current medal count to five.

The only Japanese athlete of the day to walk away empty-handed was women's 200 m finalist Kana Ichikawa, who finished last in 24.09. Among athletes running qualifying heats, Kosei Yamaguchi was 2nd in heat 1 of the men's 3000 mSC. Japan-based Jonathan Ndiku (Kenya) and Desta Alemu (Ethiopia) went 2-3 in heat 2, Alemu delivering a PB of 8:38.04. Men's 110 m hurdler Wataru Yazawa was 2nd in heat 5 with a season-best 13.76, advancing to the semi-finals. Akane Yabushita ran a PB of 4:19.72 in heat 2 of the women's 1500 m but failed to advance. Men's discus thrower Takumi Inubushi also delivered a PB of 50.35 but did not move past the qualification round. Ryota Kashimura threw a season-best 58.91 in the men's hammer throw but likewise did not clear the qualification round. Lastly, the women's 4 x 100 m relay ran a season-best 45.78 but did not make the semi-final round.

2010 World Junior Championships Top Results
click here for complete results
Men's 200 m Final
1. Shota Iizuka (JPN) - 20.67
2. Aliaksandr Linnik (BLR) - 20.89
3. Aaron Brown (CAN) - 21.00 - PB

Men's 400 mH Final
1. Jehue Gordon (TRI) - 49.30
2. Takatoshi Abe (JPN) - 49.46 - PB
3. Leslie Murray (ISV) - 50.22

Men's Javelin Throw Final
1. Till Woschler (GER) - 82.52
2. Genki Dean (JPN) - 76.44 - PB
3. Dmitri Tarabin (RUS) - 76.42

Men's High Jump Final
1. Mutaz Essa Barshim (QAT) - 2.30
2. David Smith (USA) - 2.24 - PB
3. Naoto Tobe (JPN) - 2.21

(c) 2010 Brett Larner
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