Saturday, November 27, 2010

Kitaoka Marathon Silver at Asian Games

by Brett Larner

With the emergence of India's superb double track medalists Preeja Sreeharan and Kavita Raut and nearly all of the remaining medals in the men's and women's distance medals going to Kenyan and Ethiopian athletes running in the colors of Qatar and Bahrain, Japanese athletes were virtually shut out of the distance medals at the 2010 Asian Games in Guanzhou, China. In just his second marathon, Yukihiro Kitaoka (Team NTN) delivered one of Japan's only distance medals of the Games, outkicking the defending gold medalist, Kenyan Richard Yatich running as Mubarak Hussan Shami of Qatar, in the final meters of the race to take silver behind an outstanding if unsportsmanlike gold medal run from South Korea's Youngjun Ji. In taking silver Kitaoka likely earned himself one of the five spots up for grabs on the Japanese marathon squad for next summer's World Championships in Daegu, South Korea.

By contrast the Japanese women marathoners came up empty-handed for the first time as defending Asian Games silver medalist Kiyoko Shimahara and her Second Wind AC teammate Yuri Kano were beaten fair and square by Japanese-coached defending gold medalist Chunxiu Zhou and her training partner Xiaolin Zhu of China, 2009 Asian half marathon champion Kum Ok Kim (North Korea) and, in a brilliant performance, the unknown Triyaningsih (Indonesia).

The men's race was in more ways than one a duel between Ji, holder of the fastest SB in the field and Shami, who had not finished a marathon since 2008. Shami, who repeatedly throughout the race stopped at water stations to dig water bottles out of cardboard boxes rather than take the paper cups placed on the tables, did much of the attacking over the difficult Guangzhou course. Ji consistently followed right behind, clipping Shami's heels at seemingly every available opportunity. Shami at first responded by waving Ji off, then forward, then turning and shouting, then swerving wildly to get away from the Korean, then slowing to a walk so Ji would be forced to go around him, and ultimately slapping, pushing or apparently throwing a punch at Ji on at least three occasions. For an international championship race it was wild and crazy sequence of events and a remarkably dirty run by the eventual Korean gold medalist.

Following a surge by Kitaoka at 31 km, Ji took control of the race at 32 km, breaking away with Shami close by but trying to keep to his own personal space. Ji eventually wore Shami down and by 38 km was on his own, pushing impressively through the heat and hills to take gold in 2:11:11. Shami, still close behind Ji at the 40 km water station, shockingly stopped and struggled to take a bottle of water out of a cardboard box below an aid station table as Kitaoka, still visible behind him, bore down. Entering the final straightaway to the finish Kitaoka caught Shami, sailing on to take silver in 2:12:46 with Shami hanging on for bronze just seconds back.

The women's marathon was more one-dimensional with Zhou, the defending women's gold medalist and holder of the best PB and SB in the field, controlling the race. Looking to be in her best form since winning the 2008 London Marathon, she and Zhu ran together wearing down the field until it was down to the eventual medalists. Zhou then broke away with an aggressive surge after 32 km to repeat her gold from the 2006 Doha Asian Games in 2:25:00, her best time of the year. Her perpetual bridesmade Zhu took silver, with bronze medalist Kim likewise dealing out a season best performance in 2:27:06.

Triyaningsih deserves an honorable mention for her surprising 4th place, coming to the Games with a PB of only 2:47:35, a build and form like a middle distance athlete, running most of the race with her head and shoulders covered, and outkicking Shimahara for 4th. The always-reliable Shimahara had a gutsy performance, falling from the lead pack after only 8 km but returning in the final 4 km to catch Triyaningsih and challenge for 4th, but for the Japanese women it was nevertheless a disappointing day, the last chance to put a bright ending on the weakest year in the modern history of Japanese women's marathoning.

2010 Asian Games Distance Events
click here for complete results
italicized results indicate African athletes competing in the Asian Games
Men's Marathon, 11/27/10
1. Youngjun Ji (South Korea) - 2:11:11
2. Yukihiro Kitaoka (Japan) - 2:12:46
3. Mubarak Hussan Shami (Kenya/Qatar) - 2:12:53
4. Dong Guojian (China) - 2:14:48 - 3rd Asian
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7. Tomoyuki Sato (Japan) - 2:18:24

Women's Marathon, 11/27/10
1. Chunxiu Zhou (China) - 2:25:00
2. Xiaolin Zhu (China) - 2:26:35
3. Kum Ok Kim (North Korea) - 2:27:06
4. Triyaningsih (Indonesia) - 2:31:48 - PB
5. Kiyoko Shimahara (Japan) - 2:32:11
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7. Yuri Kano (Japan) - 2:36:40

Men's 10000 m, 11/26/10
click here for video highlights
1. Bilisuma Shugi Gelassa (Ethiopia/Bahrain) - 27:32.72 - PB, MR
2. Essa Rashed (Kenya/Qatar) - 27:33.09
3. Ali Hasan Mahboob (Kenya/Qatar) - 27:40.07
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6. Satoru Kitamura (Japan) - 28:54.71 - 3rd Asian

Women's 10000 m, 11/21/10
click here for video: part one - part two - part three
1. Preeja Sreedharan (India) - 31:50.47 - PB, NR
2. Kavita Raut (India) - 31:51.44 - PB
3. Shitaye Habtegebrel (Ethiopia/Bahrain) - 31:54:27 - PB
4. Kayoko Fukushi (Japan) - 31:55.54 - 3rd Asian
5. Hikari Yoshimoto (Japan) - 32:06.73

Men's 5000 m, 11/21/10
1. Ali Hasan Mahboob (Kenya/Bahrain) - 13:47.86
2. James Kurui (Kenya/Qatar) - 13:48.55
3. Felix Kibore (Kenya/Qatar) - 13:49.31
4. Dejene Mootumaa (Ethiopia/Bahrain) - 13:50.60
5. Abdullah Aljoud (Saudia Arabia) - 13:52.34 - 1st Asian
6. Kensuke Takezawa (Japan) - 13:54.11 - 2nd Asian
7. Baek Seung Ho (South Korea) - 13:56.18 - 3rd Asian
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9. Yuki Matsuoka (Japan) - 14:03.62

Women's 5000 m, 11/26/10
click here for video highlights
1. Mimi Belete Gebregeiorges (Ethiopia/Bahrain) - 15:15.59 - PB
2. Preeja Sreedharan (India) - 15:15.89 - PB
3. Kavita Raut (India) - 15:16.54 - PB
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5. Kayoko Fukushi (Japan) - 15:25.08 - 3rd Asian
8. Ryoko Kizaki (Japan) - 15:58.85

Men's 3000 m SC, 11/23/10
1. Tareq Taher (Kenya/Bahrain) - 8:25.89
2. Thamer Kamal (Kenya/Qatar) - 8:26.27
3. Ali al-Amri (Saudia Arabia) - 8:30.96 - 1st Asian

Women's 3000 mSC, 11/21/10
click here for video highlights
1. Sudha Singh (India) - 9:55.67
2. Jin Yuan (China) - 9:55.71
3. Minori Hayakari (Japan) - 10:01.25

(c) 2010 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree unfortunately. Just my opinion, but:

I watched both races and actually found the Qatari (Shami) to be ridiculously annoying. And i was hoping that Ji would win in the end.

It's the Korean's right to shadow him. After all Shami is the defending champion and the de facto favourite. I don't recall seeing Ji trip Shami.

Swinging out, taunting other runners (with the finger to the head thing) and throwing bottles around at water stops is disgraceful behaviour. The announcers quite rightly termed Shami's performance as 'shambolic'.

The Korean stuck to his task and won, rightly so.

Oh and great job to Kitaoka. Hung in and worked his way to the silver after being dropped.

Brett Larner said...

I agree the water bottle thing was strange but the rest of Shami's behavior was in direct response to unnecessary physical contact repeated over and over by Ji. There is shadowing and there is interference. All of us who watched the race together felt Ji's actions were borderline DQ material -- he did actually make Shami stumble at one point. That aside, his performance was excellent.