Skip to main content

Okamoto and Date Look to Carry on Team Chugoku Denryoku Legacy at Tokyo Marathon

http://www.chugoku-np.co.jp/sports/Sp201102220241.html

translated by Brett Larner

Making a bid for places on the national team for this summer's World Championships in Daegu, Korea, two members of Team Chugoku Denryoku, Naoki Okamoto and Hideaki Date, will be on the starting line of this Sunday's Tokyo Marathon. For Okamoto, 26, it will be his second marathon. The 25 year old Date will be making his debut. Since 2001 every World Championships and Olympics men's marathon team has featured members of the Chugoku Denryoku team, and these two young athletes are now charged with carrying on the team's legacy.

"It wasn't sweet." That is how Okamoto looks back on his debut at last year's Tokyo Marathon, where he finished 23rd in 2:23:06. Coming to the race with problems with his right Achilles, Okamoto was in questionable condition to run a marathon and, combined with the freezing cold rain at last year's Tokyo, fell off the lead pack just before 30 km. He felt the fear of the marathon, but it did not break his spirit. "I don't run away from failure," he says, explaining his decision to return to Tokyo for his second marathon. Since January he has done five 40 km runs, eliminating any uncertainty about being able to handle the distance. Poised to become the team's next-generation ace, Okamoto says, "I want to be the one to carry on the Chugoku Denryoku tradition on the national team."

Date is also focused on making the team. In his days at Tokai University Date was a major star of the university ekiden circuit. Upon announcing his signing to the Chugoku Denryoku team he declared, "I want to find success in the marathon," but until last year he was beset by back problems and other injuries. Unable to compete, Date had to watch from the sidelines as other runners who graduated the same year, such as Satoru Kitamura (Team Nissin Shokuhin) and Yuichiro Ueno (Team S&B), went on to make the national team for the World Championships and Asian Games. "That was hard to take," he says. Now three years later he is ready to face his first marathon. "I'm feeling about 50-50 fear and excitement, but either way with this one race I'm going to bring back the old me. My goal is to break 2:09:30 and be the top Japanese man." If he succeeds, Date will find himself on Chugoku Denryoku's eighth-straight national team.

Translator's note: Okamoto and Date's coach Yasushi Sakaguchi is also the federation's director of men's marathoning. Until this past November Date was the half marathon junior national record holder.

Chugoku Denryoku Marathon National Team Members
2009 Berlin World Championships - Atsushi Sato - 6th
2008 Beijing Olympics - Tsuyoshi Ogata - 13th, Atsushi Sato - 76th
2007 Osaka World Championships - Tsuyoshi Ogata - 5th
2005 Helsinki World Championships - Tsuyoshi Ogata - bronze medal
2004 Athens Olympics - Shigeru Aburuya - 5th
2003 Paris World Championships - Shigeru Aburuya - 5th, Atsushi Sato - 10th, Tsuyoshi Ogata - 12th
2001 Edmonton World Championships - Shigeru Aburuya - 5th

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Official Statement From Corporate Federation Director Nishikawa on Anti-Doping Violation and Sanction

A statement by Koichiro Nishikawa, chairperson of the Japan Industrial Track and Field Association

At the 37th National Corporate Women's Ekiden organized by the Japan Industrial Track and Field Association (JITA), a prohibited substance was detected in a sample taken from Moeno Nakamura, at the time a member of the Universal Entertainment team, in an in-competition drug test. After receiving notification of this result, in accordance with the recommendations of the Japan Anti-Doping Agency disciplinary panel, Nakamura was suspended for one year and three months beginning Nov. 26, 2017.

As the JITA not only do we hold anti-doping education sessions for athletes and coaches in partnership with the Japan Association of Athletics Federations and clearly specify that our events must be carried out in strict accordance with anti-doping regulations, but as the JITA chairperson I have personally given strong emphasis to the importance of "Clean Sport." In spite of these effort…

National Corporate Women's Ekiden Champion Team to be Stripped of Title After Member Tests Positive

On July 18 it was learned from several sources connected with the situation that a member of the 2017 National Corporate Women's Ekiden champion team Universal Entertainment who left the team at the end of last season tested positive for a banned substance in a doping test carried out at the ekiden. Universal Entertainment won the national championship race, its second-ever title and first in five years. But because the athlete's result will be annulled the team will also be stripped of its title, an unprecedented situation in the ekiden's history.

According to an involved source, before the race the athlete took her own personal medicine which included the prohibited substance. The athlete denied having taking the medicine in order to enhance her performance. Team management claimed the athlete had not informed then that she was taking it, and that the situation was the result of her personal carelessness.

The Universal Entertainment team was founded under the name Aruze…

Nakamura on Positive Drug Test: "I Had Gynecological Issues I Didn't Want Anyone to Know About"

On July 19 the Japan Anti-Doping Agency (JADA) announced that distance runner Moeno Nakamura, 28, a former member of the Universal Entertainment women's ekiden team, had tested positive for the muscle tone-improving steroid metenolone during in-competition testing at last November's National Corporate Women's Ekiden, which Universal Entertainment won. As a result of the positive test Nakamura, who has already left the team, will be suspended for one year and three months and have her result at the ekiden annulled.

According to the JADA announcement, two months before the ekiden Nakamura underwent surgical treatment for a gynecological condition. Subsequent injections she received included the prohibited substance. JADA accepted her explanation that these were for post-operative therapeutic purposes but ruled her negligent in not having told her doctor that she was an athlete and in not confirming the contents of the injections.

In a statement released through Universal En…