Skip to main content

Ten Members of Sendai Ikuei H.S. Ekiden Team to Transfer to Toyokawa H.S.

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/f-sp-tp0-20120221-906707.html
http://mainichi.jp/enta/sports/general/news/20120221ddm035050006000c.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

With nine boys' and girls' National High School Ekiden Championships titles to its name, Sendai Ikuei H.S. (Miyagi Pref.) announced on Feb. 20 that ten members of its ekiden team will be leaving together and transferring to three-time girls' national champion Toyokawa H.S. (Aichi Pref.) for the new school year.  Sendai Ikuei's graduates include Beijing Olympics men's marathon gold medalist Samuel Wanjiru (Kenya) and 5000 m national champion Megumi Kinukawa (Mizuno).  The school's training facilities were seriously damaged in last year's natural disasters, and the announcement of the resignation of head coach Junichi Seino (27) following the boys' team's 12th-place finish at last year's National High School Ekiden Championships spread discontent and agitation throughout the team.

A Toyokawa H.S. spokesperson said that the school had offered to take in the students as part of an effort to provide relief to those in the disaster-stricken areas.  "We decided that this was what we could do to support students from the affected region," explained the spokesperson.  "We will do everything we can to help them, including providing mental care for those students who have experienced profound hardship."  The ten students involved in the transfer, all first and second-years, include seven boys and three girls.  Excluding foreign students, all three first and second-year boys and two girls who ran in last year's National High School Ekiden Championships are part of the transfer.  All took Toyokawa's entrance exam and were approved for admission on Feb. 18.  The transfer to Toyokawa's ekiden team is expected to be effective Mar. 1.

The Sendai Ikuei H.S. girls' team finished 3rd at Nationals but the boys' team was only 12th, leading to discussion of head coach Seino's departure.  According to the involved source, in addition to Seino's impending resignation, the damage and effects of last March's earthquake and tsunami and the necessity of being in an environment in which student athletes can train and focus properly given the high level of competition in Japan were the primary reasons for the students' request for the transfer.  With regard to the unusual situation of a large number of top-level athletes seeking to transfer between national champion high schools together, the national high school federation commented, "There is no precedent.  We ask the local high school federations in both prefectures to investigate and confirm the facts of this case."

Athletes are restricted from competing in national events such as the National High School Track & Field Championships and National High School Ekiden Championships for six months after a transfer, but given the special circumstances of the natural disasters and other factors the athletes have not yet been sanctioned in this instance.  A spokesperson for the national high school federation commented, "It will be necessary to make a final decision before the [National H.S. T&F Championships] Aichi Prefecture qualifiers in May."  The Aichi prefecture high school federation said, "This action was undertaken out of a desire to provide relief to victims of the disasters.  We will have to consider it carefully."

When Sendai Ikuei H.S. disbanded its table tennis program in 2008, eight members of the team including students from the school's related junior high school transferred to a private high school in Yamaguchi prefecture.  A Sendai Ikuei spokesperson said, "We respect the personal decisions of all the students involved.  Our track and field program will have to rebuild from zero."

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Kiplagat, Ichiyama, Tadese and Shitara Lead Marugame Half Elite Field

The Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon is always one of Japan's deepest races of the year on the men's side, its 2012 running setting a world record for the most men under 64 minutes in a single half marathon in history. On the women's side the field is always smaller but still home to the 1:07:26 Japanese national record set by Kayoko Fukushi (Wacoal) back in 2006.

Edna Kiplagat (Kenya), Sara Hall (U.S.A.) and Betsy Saina (Kenya) lead the women's international field, two-time defending champ Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain) giving Marugame a miss this year. Fresh off a 1:09:14 PB at last month's Sanyo Ladies Half, Mao Ichiyama (Wacoal) leads a trio of Japanese women with recent sub-1:10 times, something that has become a puzzling rarity lately. Fukushi is also back, her recent best of 1:12:04 a long way from her best days.

Speaking of which, world record holder Zersenay Tadese (Eritrea) will be looking to break 60 minutes for the first time since 2015. His toughest…

Cheboitibin, Kiprono and Sonoda Top Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon Elite Entries

With just over two weeks to go the organizers of the Feb. 4 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon have released their elite field for this year's race. With its history as an elite men-only race Beppu-Oita's women's field is still tiny given its status as an IAAF silver label race, but this year promises a good race between two local 2:32 women, 2016 winner Hiroko Yoshitomi (Memolead) and Yuka Takemoto (Canon AC Kyushu), that should see the 2:39:57 course record fall. Defending champ Haruka Yamaguchi (AC Kita) also returns with a 2:38:43 PB from last fall that puts her range of the course record as well.

The men's race is heavier-duty, with a spot in the MGC Race Tokyo Olympic Trials available to the top Japanese man under 2:11:00 and to up to five others if they clear 2:10. Hayato Sonoda (Kurosaki Harima) and Taiga Ito (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) are the only Japanese men in the field to have run those kinds of times in the last couple of years, and with support from 2:09~2:10 men

Tokyo Marathon to Move to March Date Beginning in 2019

At a press conference in Tokyo on Dec. 12, the Tokyo Marathon Foundation announced that beginning in 2019, the Tokyo Marathon will move from its current date on the last Sunday of February to the first Sunday of March. The next Imperial succession is set to take place in 2019, meaning that February 23 will become the Emperor's Birthday national holiday starting in 2020. The race date is being preemptively moved to avoid any potential overlap.

According to the Foundation, setting up and breaking down the facilities necessary to hold the Tokyo Marathon takes several days. With the finish area being positioned in front of the Imperial Palace there were concerns that problems would arise due to the large number of people who would gather in the area to celebrate the Emperor's birthday.

Translator's note: The Tokyo Marathon previously experimented with a March race date in 2009 but abandoned it to return to February the next year. Since 1994 the first Sunday of March has been t…