translated by Brett Larner
At a Mar. 27 press conference in Sapporo the Hokuren women's distance team announced changes to its lineup for the 2013-14 season. Tsuyoshi Takita, 49, head coach since 2010, will resign from his position to be replaced by current assistant coach Takashi Ota, 36. Ota spoke to reporters of his ambitions for the team, saying, "I want to cultivate athletes who will make the national team."
Ota is a Hokkaido native from Shiraoi, Iburi. After graduating from Tomakomai Minami H.S. he attended Sapporo Gakuin University before going on to a pro career with the NEC team. In 2003 he transferred to the Konica Minolta team where he had great success at the half marathon and on the ekiden circuit. He became assistant coach at Hokuren in 2011 following his retirement from competition.
Of his immediate goals for the team Ota said, "We will aim to clear the 2:20:10 qualifying standards for the East Japan and National Corporate Women's Ekidens and finish in the top tier." The team's star Yukiko Akaba is set to run the Apr. 21 London Marathon. "I am aiming to break my PB and run 2:23 so that I can have a spot on the World Championships team in August," she said.