Skip to main content

Fujiwara's H.S. Coach, Hometown Supporters Delighted With Tokyo Performance

http://mainichi.jp/area/nagasaki/news/20120227ddlk42050279000c.html
http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/osaka/sports/article/news/20120228-OHO1T00105.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner
photo by Dr. Helmut Winter


At the Feb. 26 Tokyo Marathon, Isahaya, Nagasaki native and Isahaya H.S. alum Arata Fujiwara, 30, was the top Japanese finisher at 2nd overall in 2:07:48, immediately elevating him into the top position among the contenders for the London Olympic team.  Voices of support and congratulations have poured in from his hometown friends and colleagues and from his former teachers.  As a student at Isahaya H.S. Fujiwara never made it to the National High School Championships, but according to his coach at Isahaya, Toshihiro Matsumoto, even in those days he never neglected his training and was always focused on improving, traits that remain inside him now.

Two weeks ago, with no doubt in his voice, Fujiwara told his former coach by phone, "I'm going to run 2:07.  I'm going to London."  Matsumoto travelled to Tokyo to see the race, watching near the 30 km point.  When he saw Fujiwara in pursuit of the leaders he shouted out, "Keep going!  Keep going!" at the top of his voice.  Right after the race Fujiwara called him, almost exploding with energy as he said, "Coach!  I did it!"

Two years ago Fujiwara quit the JR Higashi Nihon corporate team.  He signed a contract with a Japanese manager and sports equipment manufacturer, but after firing the manager last spring he terminated the relationship with the sponsor in October after they failed to pay him.  Now, Matsumoto believes, Fujiwara is set for the Olympics.  "I admire him for achieving this on his own.  It shows his strength of mind," said Matsumoto.

Isahaya mayor Akio Miyamoto gave Fujiwara exceptional praise, saying, "If he is named to the Olympic team he will follow gymnast Kohei Uchimura and race walker Koichiro Morioka to become Isahaya's third Olympian.  The way he advanced in pursuit of the lead in the final stage of the race was superb and deeply moved all the citizens of Isahaya."

photo (c) 2012 Dr. Helmut Winter
all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Chebii Returns - Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon Elite Field

Defending champ Ezekiel Chebii (Kenya) returns to lead the field for the Mar. 4 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon. Chebii is one of three men in the field with recent 2:06 times, his 2:06:07 in Amsterdam two years ago leading Tadesse Abraham (Switzerland) and Abera Kuma (Ethiopia) to form a clear trio of favorites.

Making up the second pack are four current sub-2:10 Japanese men, 2017 Gold Coast winner Takuya Noguchi (Konica Minolta), Rio Olympian Satoru Sasaki (Asahi Kasei), and Sasaki's teammates Takuya Fukatsu and Fumihiro Maruyama. The addition of sub-61 half marathoner Kenta Murayama in his second shot at the marathon after a failed debut in Tokyo two years ago makes for a formidable quartet of men from 2017 and 2018 New Year Ekiden national champion Asahi Kasei all aligned in training and talent.

With Japan's depth it's never surprising to see a relatively anonymous runner make a breakthrough and factor into the action. Yoshiki Takenouchi (NTT Nishi Nihon) was one of the …

Yamazaki, Ndirangu, Kamulu and Shitara Top Weekend Road Racing Action

Snow and cold impacted road races across Japan over the weekend, but at the top level almost every event went off as planned. In his marathon debut, Shota Yamazaki (Yakult) downed two-time defending champ Ryoichi Matsuo and debuting training partner Takumi Honda of the locally-based New Year Ekiden national champion Asahi Kasei corporate team to take the top spot at the Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon in a three-way sprint finish.

Shaking off first-timer Keisuke Tanaka (Fujitsu) late in the race, Yamazaki did all the work in the lead trio with the Asahi Kasei duo hanging off both of his shoulders. Hitting a bridge with 750 m to go Honda surged into the lead with Matsuo following. Yamazaki fell back, looking behind him with 500 m to go and seeming to have settled for 3rd. At 400 m to go Matsuo went to the front and looked to be on track to become only the second man to win Nobeoka three times, but as the pair rounded the final corner Yamazaki came back with a kick that left both his riv…

In Memory of Ken Young

I'm very saddened to hear of the passing of Ken Young, founder of the Association of Road Racing Statisticians. If you're not familiar with Ken or the ARRS, Amby Burfoot's 2016 piece on him in Runners World, The Endless Toil of the Big Data Guy, says everything you need to know. Back in the early days of JRN, Ken was one of several industry people to contact me after I published JRN's first hit article, 397 Under 70 Minutes: The 20th Ageo City Half Marathon. He wanted verification of the results and, seemingly having missed Ageo before, asked me to research its history and past results.

That soon led to me transliterating results from Japanese road, track and cross-country races for him on a weekly basis, results otherwise unavailable to the outside world except for some already covered by Japanese contributors Ken Nakamura and Shigenobu Ota. For the last 10 years I've spent about 10 hours on average every Sunday night and Monday morning, sometimes Tuesday, someti…