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Murasawa and Sreedharan Impress in Asian Athletics Championships 10000 m

by Brett Larner

Intense humidity after a day of rain heavy enough to postpone the men's pole vault final at the 2011 Asian Athletics Championships meant that the anticipated fast times in the 10000 m were off the table, but both the men's and women's races featured dramatic action and exciting finishes.  African-born Bahrainis turned the race for gold and silver into Kenya vs. Ethiopia intramural competitions in both races, with defending champion Kenyan Mahboob Ali Hasan Mahboob beating Ethiopian Bilisuma Shugi Gelasa in the men's race and Ethiopian 2010 Asian Games 10000 m bronze medalist Shitaye Eshete Habtegebrel outkicking Kenyan Kareema Jasim Saleh to take the women's race.

The Asians in the Asian Athletics Championships were left to compete for bronze.  The men's race saw a nearly constant turnover in the lead position, with Mahboob taking the field through a 2:46 first kilometer off a quick opening lap by Tokai University junior Akinobu Murasawa, followed by a slower middle section ambitiously led by India's Suresh Kumar and tailed by 2010 Hofu Yomiuri Marathon winner Serod Batochir (Mongolia).  After a 14:22 first 5000 m Kumar and Batochir could not keep up as Mahboob, Gelasa, Murasawa and year-leading Japanese man Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta) all took turns leading and pushing the pace.  Mahboob twice fell back in the last mile but each time returned to regain contact.  Ugachi lost touch in the final kilometer as Mahboob moved to the front and began a sustained push to the end.  Murasawa did his best to stay with the two Africans over the final lap but could not match their last kick and had to settle for 3rd, with the consolation of having running an aggressive race up front to beat the faster Ugachi in a championship 10000 m for the second time this season.  Kumar overtook the fading Batochir for 5th, the 3rd-place Asian finisher.

In the women's race Kaoru Nagao (Team Univ.) took things out at 33:00 pace, running the first 4000 m like clockwork as she split 3:18, 3:18, 3:17 and 3:18.  The two Bahrainis then moved to the front but did not pick things up, running 3:18 for each of the next two splits.  After 6000 m the African pair surged away from the pack, opening a gap that was never threatened.  The superb 2010 Asian Games 10000 m gold medalist Preeja Sreedharan (India) and the lesser-known of the two Japanese women, Hitomi Nakamura (Team Panasonic) initially gave chase, dropping early leader Nagao as they tried to go with the Bahrainis but soon settling back and letting Nagao catch back up.  The race for bronze came down to a battle between Sreedharan and Nakamura over the last kilometer, but with the superior finishing speed Sreedharan showed at last fall's Asian Games there was little doubt of the outcome as she outkicked Nakamura for the medal.  Asian Games silver medalist Kavita Raut (India) was also in the race but abruptly dropped out of the pack early in the race and finished 6th in only 35:24.35.

The distance events at the Asian Athletics Championships continue on Saturday with the 5000 m, where Raut will face 15:13 woman Hitomi Niiya (Team Univ. Ent.) and this year's men's 5000 m national champion Kazuya Watanabe (Team Shikoku Denryoku) and 10000 m national champion Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) will chase the 13:20.00 World Championships A-standard.

2011 Asian Athletics Championships Day One
Kobe, Hyogo, July 7, 2011
click here for complete results

Men's 10000 m
1. Mahboob Ali Hasan Mahboob (Kenya/Bahrain) - 28:35.49
2. Bilisuma Shugi Gelasa (Ethiopia/Bahrain) - 28:36.30
3. Akinobu Murasawa (Tokai Univ.) - 28:40.63
4. Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta) - 28:48.53
5. Suresh Kumar (India) - 29:37.62
6. Serod Batochir (Mongolia) - 29:44.84
7. Kheta Ram (India) - 30:31.85
DNF - Mohammed Khazaei (Iran)

Women's 10000 m
1. Shitaye Eshete Habtegebrel (Ethiopia/Bahrain) - 32:47.80
2. Kareema Jasim Saleh (Kenya/Bahrain) - 32:50.70
3. Preeja Sreedharan (India) - 33:15.55
4. Hitomi Nakamura (Team Panasonic) - 33:16.62
5. Kaoru Nagao (Team Univ. Ent.) - 33:19.14
6. Kavita Raut (India) - 35:24.35
7. M. Ghayournajafabadi (Iran) - 43:09.30

Men's Discus Throw
1. Ehsan Hadadi (Iran) - 62.27 m
2. V.G. Shive Gowda (India) - 61.58 m
3. Jian Wu (China) - 56.61 m

Women's Long Jump
1. Mayookha Johny (India) - 6.56 m
2. Minjia Lu (China) - 6.52 m
3. Saeko Okayama (Japan) - 6.51 m

Women's Hammer Throw
1. Masumi Aya (Japan) - 67.19 m
2. Tinting Liu (China) - 65.42 m
3. Yuka Murofushi (Japan) - 62.50 m

Women's Javelin Throw
1. Chunhua Liu (China) - 58.05 m
2. Ping Wang (China) - 55.80 m
3. Yuka Sato (Japan) - 54.16 m

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

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