translated and edited by Brett Larner
On the one-year anniversary of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, London Olympics marathon team candidate Yuki Kawauchi (25, Saitama Pref.) ran the Saitama Half-Marathon as a specially-invited guest, winning in 1:04:26. After finishing 14th at the Tokyo Marathon two weeks ago Kawauchi said, "It's impossible for me to make the Olympics," but having been the top Japanese finisher at December's Fukuoka International Marathon selection race in a good time some chance remains of him making the team. The Japanese federation will announce the men's and women's Olympic marathon team lineups at 3:30 p.m. on Mar. 12.
Kawauchi shaved his head in shame after running 2:12:51 for 4th in Tokyo. He took three days off following the race and has only jogged since then. He had also planned to just jog the Saitama Half, but once he was in the heat of the race his full strength came out. "It's a tough, undulating course, so I think a 64 is pretty good here," he said after the race. "People were cheering and it got me going. When they're calling out, 'Do your best!' that's all you can do. In the sense of helping me focus toward doing my best in achieving my next goal it was a good race. At Tokyo next year I want to make up for what happened this year."
Having set his sights on making the national team for the 2013 World Championships in Moscow, Kawauchi's spirits and motivation have returned. Before then, he may well make the London team. With Nagoya Women's Marathon 2nd-placer Yoshimi Ozaki (Team Daiichi Seimei) considered a strong choice for the London team after having run poorly at the Daegu World Championships followed by two selection race runs, Kawauchi must be viewed as in almost the same position, finishing 3rd on the Japanese team in Daegu and 3rd overall in Fukuoka prior to running Tokyo. It's possible he may join Arata Fujiwara (Tokyo T&F Assoc.) and Ryo Yamamoto (Team Sagawa Express) as the third man on the Olympic team. Fans all across the country are watching to see if the dream success story of a self-training amateur making the Olympics comes true in the end.