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World Cross-Country Championships - Japanese Results

by Brett Larner

Despite nearly half its team hailing from earthquake and tsunami-hit areas, the Japanese squad was missing only two members of its senior men's team at the 2011 World Cross-Country Championships in Punta Umbria, Spain. The junior women were the stars of the day, taking a team bronze medal thanks in part to 12th and 13th place finishes from ace Katsuki Suga (Kojokan H.S.) and Tomoka Kimura (Chikuyo Joshi Gakuen H.S.). Hailing from the hard-hit city of Sendai, Natsuki Yoshida (Sendai Ikuei H.S.) was last on the team but still turned in a credible performance all things considered, 34th in 21:00. Her team medal will no doubt be a boost to the spirits of those back in Sendai dealing with the post-tsunami devastation.

The senior women's and junior men's teams both placed 7th, the top individual performance on either team being a 26th-place run by women's team leader Hitomi Niiya (Team Toyota Jidoshoki), whose home base of Sakura, Chiba was badly shaken in last week's earthquake. Junior men's ace Yuma Hattori (Sendai Ikuei H.S.), also coming to the race from Sendai, was unable to run up to his potential but still placed as the team's fourth scorer, 42nd in 24:38 in a tight pack race which saw all six junior Japanese men finish within 23 seconds of each other.

Missing its two best runners, Akinobu Murasawa (Tokai Univ.) and Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin), the senior men's team finished only 14th, led by relatively unknown first-year Hirotaka Tamura (Nihon Univ.)'s 46th-place finish in 36:12. Kyushu-based Paul Tanui (Kenya/Team Kyudenko) had a strong race, coming back to finish 2nd overall after falling off the pack with 2 km to go.

2011 World Cross-Country Championships

Senior Women - 8 km
1. Vivian Jepkemoi Cheruiyot (Kenya) - 24:58
2. Linet Chepkwemoi Masai (Kenya) - 25:07
3. Shalane Flanagan (U.S.A.) - 25:10
-----
26. Hitomi Niiya (Team Toyota Jidoshoki) - 26:43
33. Hanae Tanaka (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 27:03
48. Yuko Shimizu (Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 27:27
53. Korei Omata (Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 27:31
76. Nanae Kuwashiro (Team Sysmex) - 28:16
85. Ai Igarashi (Team Sysmex) - 28:37

Team Medals
1. Kenya - 15
2. Ethiopia - 29
3. U.S.A. - 57
-----
7. Japan - 160

Senior Men - 12 km
1. Imane Merga (Ethiopia) - 33:50
2. Paul Kipngetich Tanui (Kenya/Team Kyudenko) - 33:52
3. Vincent Kiprop Chepkok (Kenya) - 33:53
-----
46. Hirotaka Tamura (Nihon Univ.) - 36:12
50. Yusuke Takabayashi (Team Toyota) - 36:26
84. Tsubasa Hayakawa (Tokai Univ.) - 37:37
86. Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Meiji Univ.) - 37:40

Team Results
1. Kenya - 14
2. Ethiopia - 38
3. Uganda - 49
-----
14. Japan - 266

Junior Women - 6 km
1. Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon (Kenya) - 18:53
2. Genet Yalew (Ethiopia) - 18:54
3. Azemra Gebru (Ethiopia) - 18:54
-----
12. Katsuki Suga (Kojokan H.S.) - 19:49
13. Tomoka Kimura (Chikuyo Joshi Gakuen H.S.) - 19:56
23. Yuriko Kosaki (Narita H.S.) - 20:23
27. Risa Yokoe (Suma Gakuen H.S.) - 20:31
30. Risa Shibuya (Hanawa H.S.) - 20:48
34. Natsumi Yoshida (Sendai Ikuei H.S.) - 21:00

Team Medals
1. Ethiopia - 17
2. Kenya - 19
3. Japan - 75

Junior Men - 8 km
1. Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor (Kenya) - 22:21
2. Thomas Ayeko (Uganda) - 22:27
3. Patrick Mutunga Mwikya (Kenya) - 22:32
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33. Kazuma Kubota (Kyushu Gakuin H.S.) - 24:22
36. Takashi Ichida (Kagoshima Jitsugyo H.S.) - 24:25
37. Genki Yagisawa (Nasu Takuyo H.S.) - 24:34
42. Yuma Hattori (Sendai Ikuei H.S.) - 24:38
43. Yuki Arimura (Kagoshima Jitsugyo H.S.) - 24:40
46. Ken Yokote (Sakushin Gakuin H.S.) - 24:45

Team Results
1. Kenya - 20
2. Ethiopia - 24
3. Uganda - 50
-----
7. Japan - 148

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

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Lexicon

Betsudai - the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon
daigaku - university
ekiden - a long-distance relay race
faito - a courseside audience cheer; see ganbatte
ganbatte (ganbare) - a courseside audience cheer; see faito
gasshuku - an intensive training camp
Hakone Ekiden - the annual university men`s championships
jitsugyodan - corporate-sponsored professional running teams
onsen - a hot spring
Q-chan - Naoko Takahashi, the 2000 Sydney Olympics women`s marathon gold medalist, Olympic record holder and first woman to break 2:20 in the marathon
rikujo - track and field, the marathon, and other running events
Rikuren - the JAAF
tasuki - the sash which is handed off during an ekiden
zannen - too bad
otaku - a nerdy, socially awkward person, usually male, who is obsessed with some esoteric topic

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