Saturday, June 8, 2013

National Championships Day Two Preview

by Brett Larner

Following the women's 10000 m meet record set yesterday by Hitomi Niiya (Team Univ. Ent.) and Seito Yamamoto (Chukyo Univ.) joining her on the Moscow World Championships team, the 97th Japanese National Track and Field Championships continue today at western Tokyo's Ajinomoto Stadium.  Below is a quick guide to some of the day's best events, with the men's 10000 m, 100 m and javelin leading the way. JRN will be on-site to cover the meet live.

Men's 10000 m - June 8
There's been some momentum in the men's 10000 m this year, with three collegiates going sub-28 and two men hitting the 27:40.00 World Championships A-standard.  All of them are on the list for today's 10000 m, led by Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.) in 27:38.31 and defending national champion Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) with a 27:38.25 best and a 27:39.50 mark this year.  Sato outkicked Osako for the win and an Olympic spot last year, and as the only two men with an A-standard mark they will be battling again for the top two positions to make the Moscow team.  Hoping to join them are sub-27:45 men Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota) and Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta), sub-28 twins Keita and Yuta Shitara (Toyo Univ.), and seven other men with recent sub-28 times.  More of a stretch from B-standard territory are a top trio from 2012 National University Ekiden champion Komazawa University, Shogo Nakamura, Shinobu Kubota and Kenta Murayama.  Miyawaki and Ugachi are the closest by far, but both have been shaky this season and will need excellent peaking to get under the A.  The Shitara twins appeared to have plenty in reserve when they ran sub-28 a month ago, but having run near 28:30 at the Kanto Regionals meet only a week later you have to wonder whether they have recovered enough for another hard 10000 m.

Men's 100 m - June 8
Likely to gain the most attention overseas, the men's 100 m final features a head-to-head matchup between two of Japan's best young sprinters, London Olympian Ryota Yamagata (Keio Univ.) and, in his National Championships debut, high school star Yoshihide Kiryu (Rakunan H.S.).  Both have cleared the 10.15 World Championships A-standard and, like Osako and Sato in the 10000 m, will be battling for the top two spots. With Kiryu knocking on a national record and sub-10 it could be an historic race. Also making the final is Beijing Olympics 4x100 m relay bronze medalist Naoki Tsukahara (Team Fujitsu).

Women's 100 m - June 8
The women's 100 m final is a one-woman show for national record holder Chisato Fukushima (Hokkaido Hi-Tec AC).  Fukushima should be unchallenged for the win, but currently holding only an 11.34 B-standard mark she will need to hit 11.28 to be guaranteed a World Championships position.

Women's 100 mH and 400 mH - June 8
Likewise in the women's hurdles, Ayako Kimura (Team Edion) is the only woman in the 100 mH field with a B-standard mark, having run a PB of 13.04 this season, but will need to find a 12.94 A-standard time to be sure that she will be going to Moscow.  In the 400 mH, Satomi Kubokura (Niigata Albirex RC) has the B-standard and has run an A-standard 55.34 in her career, but she will have to fight off rival Sayaka Aoki (Team Toho Ginko), right on the edge of a B-standard mark this season, for the win.  A win by Aoki slower than the 56.55 B-standard time would likely keep Kubokura off the Moscow team.

Men's Javelin - June 8
Another head-to-head matchup between two A-standard men, 2009 World Championships bronze medalist Yukifumi Murakami (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) and college star Roderick Genki Dean (Waseda Univ.).  Dean's emergence over the last two years has spurred the veteran Murakami on to continued development, with Murakami throwing a PB 85.96 m this season.  At last year's Nationals Dean threw a meet record 84.03 m to surpass Murakami and earn an Olympic spot, but with his best currently standing at 84.28 m it will likely take another meet record for him to defend his title.

(c) 2013 Brett Larner
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