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At the May 3 Shizuoka International Track and Field Meet men's 200 m, 2010 World Junior Championships gold medalist and London Olympian Shota Iizuka (21, Chuo Univ.) won Heat Four in a world-leading meet record time of 20.21 (+1.4 m/s). A PB by 0.24 seconds, Iizuka's time was enough to put him at all-time #3 on the Japanese lists and would have been good for 7th in the London final. He easily cleared the Japanese Federation's specified time for Moscow World Championships qualification, 20.29. "The first time I saw it in print I thought it was really fast," said Iizuka, "but if you can't run that kind of time then you can't be internationally competitive."
Iizuka spent the winter training at warmer locations in the United States and Australia. If he makes the podium at June's National Track and Field Championships he will be guaranteed a place on the Moscow team. "Yeah, at Nationals I want to run perfectly and make the team without any questions about it," he said with determination.
In the Shizuoka men's 200 m Heat Three, a shiny brand new first-year university runner wowed the crowd, 18-year-old Akiyuki Hashimoto (Waseda Univ.) winning in 20.35 with a 0.3 m/s headwind, a PB by almost half a second and the third-best mark in the world this year at the time, bumped down to fourth by Iizuka's 20.21 in Heat 4. Faster than any other runner of the day except Iizuka, Hashimoto also cleared the meet record. Clearing the 20.52 World Championships A-standard in a virtual Cinderella story, Hashimoto said, "I was trying to make the team for the World University Games, but since things turned out this way I'm going to have to change gears and go for Worlds," the excitement in his voice bursting through his smile.
As a senior at Kagoshima's Sensatsu Seishukan H.S. Hashimoto won last summer's National High School Championships 200 m. In high school he had many explosive clashes with Yoshihide Kiryu, one year his junior at rival Rakunan H.S. in Kyoto. Asked about Kiryu tying the 100 m world junior record earlier this week at the Oda Memorial Meet, Hashimoto replied firmly, "That's an incredible time, but it doesn't mean I'm going to lose the next time we line up against each other."