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Japan to Send Five Men and Three Women to Moscow World Championships Marathon

by Brett Larner

The Japanese Federation Rikuren announced the lineup for this year's Moscow World Championships marathon teams at a press conference on Apr. 25.  With tough sub-2:08 and sub-2:24 standards in place this time around, the team selection provided a surprising outcome: a full men's squad but only three women.

No men met the sub-2:08 standard, but all five men to run 2:08 in the selection races are on the roster, four of them having run PBs to get there.  Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko) leads the way with a 2:08:00 PB for 4th at this year's Tokyo Marathon, joined by enigmatic serial marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't), 2011 Daegu World Championships marathon 7th place Hiroyuki Horibata (Team Asahi Kasei), 2012 London Olympics marathon 6th place Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki), and, running 2:08 again 10 years since the last time he achieved that level, debut and collegiate marathon national record holder Masakazu Fujiwara (Team Honda).  If you put together an international select team of all the best non-African marathoners currently active worldwide you'd be hard-pressed to make a better lineup than this.  What a shame that they've done away with the team medals this year.

On the women's side, only three of the five available positions were filled.  Nagoya Women's Marathon winner Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu), 16th at the London Olympics, was the only athlete to hit the sub-2:24 standard and be guaranteed a place.  Backing her up are two national record holders, reborn Athens Olympics marathon gold medalist and marathon national record holder Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex) and 5000 m / half marathon national record holder Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal), both with 2:24 marks and top-three finishes at domestic selection races.  To the Federation's credit, thankfully omitted is Yokohama selection race runner-up Mizuho Nasukawa (Team Univ. Ent.), whose 2:26 performance exemplified the worst of the "forget the race, I just want to be the top Japanese" mentality that has plagued Japan.  More regrettable but understandably omitted is promising newcomer Yuko Watanabe (Team Edion), who delivered a 2:25 for the 2nd Japanese position in Osaka in January behind Fukushi.

But wait!  Here's where it gets a bit hard to follow.  Last weekend, 2011 Daegu World Championships marathon 5th-place Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) ran 2:24:43 for 3rd at the London Marathon, one of the official selection races for Moscow, but was left off the team in favor of an empty seat.  The selection criteria stated that overseas race results would only be considered if under the standards, while domestic races would have some wiggle room if not enough people met those standards.  A sop to the domestic races to keep them relevant?  Like Noguchi, Fukushi and all five men, Akaba was less than one minute over the standard, closer, in fact, than Fujiwara, and she also finished 3rd in an almost incomparably more competitive field than Noguchi or Fukushi faced in earning their spots in Nagoya and Osaka.  How much more competitive than London is the Moscow field likely to be, if at all?  With her past results and London performance Akaba seemed to have shown that with another smart race and some luck she could be a medal contender.  The sole difference between her performance and those of Noguchi, Fukushi and the entire men's team?  She was the only one to do it in one of the overseas selection races.  It's fine and good to exclude someone for not meeting clearly specified criteria, but when these criteria are less than clear in the other seven out of eight cases it only serves to illustrate problems with the black box method of national team selection.  Whatever the rationale, the decision to send a full team of five men and only three women demonstrates how much things have turned around on both sides of Japanese marathoning, uphill for the men and still on the way down for the women.


Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko)

2:08:00 - 4th, 2013 Tokyo Marathon - PB

Born: 4/19/81, Saga
Coach: Kenji Ayabe

5000 m: 13:25.24 (Heusden 2008)
10000 m: 27:55.17 (Nittai Univ. 2007)
half marathon: 1:02:08 (Udine World Half 2007)
marathon: 2:08:00 (Tokyo Marathon 2013)

Major performances
4th, 2013 Tokyo Marathon – 2:08:00 - PB
6th, 2012 Tokyo Marathon – 2:08:38
6th, 2011 Fukuoka International Marathon – 2:11:46
3rd, 2011 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon – 2:10:29
39th, 2009 Berlin World Championships Marathon - 2:19:59
2nd, 2009 Tokyo Marathon – 2:11:01
30th, 2007 World Road Running Championships Half Marathon - 1:02:08

Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov’t)

2:08:15 - 1st, 2013 Beppu-Oita Mainchi Marathon - CR

Born: 3/5/87, Saitama
Graduated: Gakushuin University
Coach: none

5000 m: 13:58.62 (Nittai Univ. 2012)
10000 m: 29:02.33 (Hokuren Distance Challenge 2010)
half marathon: 1:02:18 (Marugame 2012)
marathon: 2:08:14 (Seoul Int’l Marathon 2013)

Major performances
4th, 2013 Seoul International Marathon – 2:08:14 - PB
1st, 2013 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon – 2:08:15 – CR
1st, 2012 Hofu Yomiuri Marathon – 2:10:46
6th, 2012 Fukuoka International Marathon – 2:10:29
21st, 2012 Kavarna World Half Marathon Championships - 1:04:04
1st, 2012 Sydney Marathon – 2:11:52 - CR
3rd, 2011 Fukuoka Internatonal Marathon – 2:09:57
18th, 2011 Daegu World Championships Marathon – 2:16:11
3rd, 2011 Tokyo Marathon – 2:08:37
4th, 2010 Tokyo Marathon – 2:12:36

Hiroyuki Horibata (Team Asahi Kasei)

2:08:24 – 2nd, 2012 Fukuoka International Marathon - PB

Born: 10/28/86, Kumamoto
Coach: Takeshi Soh

5000 m: 13:53.07 (Nobeoka 2011)
10000 m: 28:30.32 (Nobeoka 2011)
half marathon: 1:04:11 (Tamana 2007)
marathon: 2:08:24 (Fukuoka Int’l Marathon 2012)

Major performances
2nd, 2012 Fukuoka International Marathon – 2:08:24 - PB
11th, 2012 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon – 2:10:05
7th, 2011 Daegu World Championships Marathon – 2:11:52
3rd, 2011 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon – 2:09:25
9th, 2008 Tokyo Marathon - 2:11:47

Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki)

2:08:35 – 2nd, 2013 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon - PB

Born: 12/7/82, Yamaguchi
Graduated: Takushoku University
Coach: Naoki Yamagashira

5000 m: 14:04.31 (Nobeoka 2011)
10000 m: 28:54.59 (Sayagatani 2012)
half marathon: 1:02:29 (Marugame 2009)
marathon: 2:08:35 (Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon 2013)

Major performances
2nd, 2013 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon – 2:08:35 - PB
6th, 2012 London Olympics Marathon – 2:11:16
5th, 2012 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon – 2:08:53
10th, 2011 Daegu World Championships Marathon – 2:13:10
4th, 2011 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon – 2:09:31
8th, 2010 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon – 2:11:42

Masakazu Fujiwara (Team Honda)

2:08:51 – 4th, 2013 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon

Born: 3/6/81, Hyogo
Graduated: Chuo University
Coach: Yosuke Osawa

5000 m: 13:49.33 (2004)
10000 m: 28:17.38 (Nittai Univ. 2000)
half marathon: 1:02:23 (Hakodate 2004)
marathon: 2:08:12 (Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon 2003)

Major performances
4th, 2013 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon – 2:08:51
9th, 2012 Berlin Marathon – 2:11:31
9th, 2010 Berlin Marathon – 2:12:00
1st, 2010 Tokyo Marathon – 2:12:19
DNS – 2003 Paris World Championships Marathon
3rd, 2003 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon – 2:08:12
1st, 2001 Beijing World University Games Half Marathon - 1:04:12


Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu)

2:23:34 – 1st, 2013 Nagoya Women’s Marathon - PB/CR

Born: 6/21/85, Kyoto
Graduated: Bukkyo University
Coach: Kiyoji Hayashi

5000 m: 15:22.87 (2011)
10000 m: 31:38.71 (2010)
half marathon: 1:10:16 (Nat'l Corporate Half Championships 2009)
marathon: 2:23:34 (Nagoya Women’s Marathon 2013)

Major performances
1st, 2013 Nagoya Women’s Marathon – 2:23:34 - PB, CR
16th, 2012 London Olympics Marathon – 2:27:16
1st, 2011 Yokohama International Women’s Marathon – 2:26:32
5th, 2011 Osaka International Women's Marathon - 2:29:35
6th, 2010 Osaka International Women’s Marathon – 2:27:34
10th, 2010 Nanning World Half Marathon Championships - 1:11:03
12th, 2009 Birmingham World Half Marathon Championships - 1:10:32
19th, 2006 Debrecen World Road Running Championships 20 km - 1:07:52

Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex)

2:24:05 – 3rd, 2013 Nagoya Women’s Marathon

Born: 7/3/78, Mie
Coach: Hisakazu Hirose

5000 m: 15:30.04 (Amagasaki 2007)
10000 m: 31:21.03 (Kobe 2004)
half marathon: 1:07:43 (Marugame 2006)
marathon: 2:19:12 (Berlin 2005) - NR

Major performances
3rd, 2013 Nagoya Women’s Marathon – 2:24:05
6th, 2012 Nagoya Women’s Marathon – 2:25:33
1st, 2007 Tokyo International Women’s Marathon – 2:21:37 - CR
1st, 2005 Berlin Marathon – 2:19:12 - NR
1st, 2004 Athens Olympics Marathon – 2:26:20
2nd, 2003 Paris World Championships – 2:24:14
1st, 2003 Osaka International Women's Marathon - 2:21:18
1st, 2002 Nagoya International Women's Marathon - 2:25:35
2nd, 1999 Palermo World Half Marathon Championships - 1:09:12

Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal)

2:24:21 – 2nd, 2013 Osaka International Women’s Marathon - PB

Born: 3/25/82, Aomori
Coach: Tadayuki Nagayama

5000 m: 14:53.22 (Rome 2005) - NR
10000 m: 30:51.81 (Busan 2002)
half marathon: 1:07:26 (Marugame 2006) - NR
marathon: 2:24:21 (Osaka Int’l Women’s Marathon 2013)

Major performances
2nd, 2013 Osaka International Women’s Marathon – 2:24:21
10th, 2012 London Olympics 10000 m - 31:10.35
3rd, 2011 Chicago Marathon – 2:24:38
9th, 2009 Berlin World Championships 10000 m - 31:23.49
11th, 2008 Beijing Olympics 10000 m - 31:01.14
10th, 2007 Osaka World Championships 10000 m - 32:32.85
6th, 2006 Debrecen World Road Running Championships 20 km - 1:05:32
6th, 2006 Fukuoka World XC Championships 8 km - 25:51
11th, 2005 Helsinki World Championships 10000 m - 31:03.75
26th, 2004 Athens Olympics 10000 m - 33:48.66
11th, 2003 Paris World Championships 10000 m - 31:10.57

(c) 2013 Brett Larner
all rights reserved


yuza said…
Akaba not being selected is just wrong. You summed it up perfectly in your post.

Akaba should be on the team just to add depth. I love Noguchi, but given her history of injuries the chances of her being fit for the World Championships are pretty slim, so potentially Japan may only have two women running in the marathon.

I just hope that somebody runs a PB at the Worlds.
Brett Larner said…
On the money re:Noguchi, Yuza. I think there's a pretty reasonable chance that scenario happens.

I assume that Ken Nakamura's write-up on the team announcement is due for the IAAF website, but it seems very strange that the version published on LRC does not even mention Akaba, let alone her omission:
Anonymous said…
I think the last sentence of this article about the Japanese selection for the Moscow Championship very much sums up the current state of Japanese marathon running. Good on you.
dadsweb said…
I saw the president of the Japanese Athletics Federation on TV yesterday explaining why they were only taking three women, say that the next closest women in contention was three minutes slower. It was almost as if Akaba's London Marathon run never happened.

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