Skip to main content

Even With Kawauchi's Public Opposition, Hakone Ekiden Select Team May Be Cut to Once in Five Years

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20130501-00000032-spnannex-spo

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On April 30 the Kanto Region University Athletics Federation (KGRR), administrators of the world's most competitive university men's long-distance circuit and organizers of its premier race, the Hakone Ekiden, announced that they plan to cut back the Hakone Ekiden's Kanto Region University Select Team, made up of the top individual runners from schools that fail to qualify as a team at October's Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai qualifier road race, from its current annual presence to once every five years on the occasion of Hakone's five-year anniversary editions.

The Select Team was introduced in 2003 at Hakone's 79th running, and the KGRR already plans not to include it at the 90th anniversary edition in 2014.  The KGRR has discussed whether to bring it back in 2015 or beyond, but at an executive board meeting on April 26 a proposal to include the Select Team only in five-year anniversary editions of Hakone was introduced.  If the plan is adopted at the KGRR's June board meeting, the Kanto Region Select Team will not be seen again until the 95th Hakone Ekiden in 2019.

The Select Team was originally introduced with the intent of giving talented runners at universities not strong enough to make the Hakone Ekiden as a team the chance to run the prestigious event.  Two of the five members of the last World Championships men's marathon team, Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota) and Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't), ran Hakone as members of the Select Team, Kawauchi running the downhill Sixth Stage twice while a student at Gakushuin University.

However, the KGRR raised problems including the fact that some athletes made the Select Team all four years of their university careers, saying, "There are more demerits to having a Select Team than merits."  If the Select Team is cut, one more university will have the opportunity to qualify for Hakone in its place.  There is an argument to be made in that rather than a "miscellaneous" collection of individuals with different goals like the Kanto Region Select Team, the decision would give the chance for Hakone Ekiden glory to one more university team whose members had shared a dream and worked together to achieve it.

Nevertheless, having gained his first big step toward the world-class level via the Kanto Region Select Team, Kawauchi remains adamant in his public calls for the Select Team to be preserved for the benefit of younger athletes still to come.  "If it becomes only once every five years it means that there will be athletes who cannot aim for Hakone without doing a fifth year in school," Kawauchi said.  "If the KGRR's stance is that the demerits outweigh the merits, what possible reason could they have for bringing it back once every five years?  I can't understand what they're thinking at all."

Comments

TokyoRacer said…
He's right. That's a typical idiotic Japanese "compromise" that makes no sense at all.
yuza said…
Surely every second or third year is fine?

Most-Read This Week

Japan's London World Championships Marathon Squad Arrives Back Home

The six members of Japan's men's and women's marathon teams at the ongoing London World Championships returned to Tokyo's Haneda Airport on Aug. 9. Decked out in the official team suit, Japanese team captain and at 9th the top-placing Japanese marathoner in London Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) spoke to the media.

Having declared pre-race his intention to withdraw from consideration for future Japanese National Team positions, post-race Kawauchi showed no change in that intent. With regard to his future plans, his motivation as a competitor likewise remaining unchanged, Kawauchi indicated that he will run Decmeber's Fukuoka International Marathon,where his 3rd-place overall finish last year earned him his place in London. "In Fukuoka I want to break my PB and run 2:07," he said. "There are things I want to accomplish besides being on the National Team."

Kawauchi revealed that his next marathon will be September's Oslo Marathon, whe…

Silver and Bronze - Summary of Japanese Performances at 2017 London World Championships

Thanks to a last-minute rush Japan walked away from the London World Championships with a passable haul. The JAAF judges performance in terms of medals and top 8 finishes. Up to Saturday, only one Japanese athlete had met either, 18-year-old sprinter Abdul Hakim Sani Brown finishing 7th in the men's 200 m final as the first Japanese man to make a 200 m final at Worlds since 2003. Three other Japanese athletes had scored top 10 placings, Yuki Kawauchi and Kentaro Nakamoto in the men's marathon and Ayuko Suzuki in the women's 10000 m, but under the JAAF's criteria these were not viewed as success.


Saturday's men's 4x100 m final brought the first Japanese medal of the Championships, with Japan following up on its Rio Olympics silver with a bronze, its first-ever Worlds medal in the discipline. Sunday morning brought Japan's best-ever showing in the men's 50 km race walk, Rio bronze medalist Hirooki Arai moving up to silver, Kai Kobayashi taking bronze wit…

London World Championships - Day Nine Japanese Results

Following up on its silver medal at the Rio Olympics, the Japanese men's 4x100 m relay squad delivered the first Japanese medal of the London World Championships as it took bronze behind hosts Great Britain and U.S.A. Swapping in alternate Kenji Fujimitsu for ailing anchor Aska Cambridge in the final, the team featured only two starting members of the Rio lineup. Lead runner Shuhei Tada, a student at Kwansei Gakuin University who burst onto the scene in May, again proved himself the best new development in Japanese men's sprinting with a fast start. Rio members Shota Iizuka and Yoshihide Kiryu did their bits on second and third to keep Japan even with Jamaica in 3rd before Fujimitsu delivered the goods.

With bronze at the Beijing Olympics and silver in Rio last year it was Japan's first-ever World Championships men's 4x100 m relay medal. At age Fujimitsu may not make it to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but with Cambridge, 200 m finalist Abdul Hakim Sani Brown and Rio team …