translated by Brett Larner
With August's Moscow World Championships drawing near, the members of the Japanese national team are building toward their sharpening phase. While the world focues on the Diamond League, some of the Japanese team's star members will be competing domestically at the Twilight Games and National High School Championships.
The July 28 Twilight Games at Shibuya's Oda Field will feature three members of the Moscow team, Ryota Yamagata (21, Keio Univ.) and Kei Takase (24, Team Fujitsu) in the men's 100 m, with Miyuki Fukumoto (36, Konan Gakuen AC) leading the women's high jump. Yamagata, who beat teen sensation Yoshihide Kiryu (17, Rakunan H.S.) at last month's National Championships, comes to the Twilight Games in excellent shape after winning silver at last week's World University Games. He is a strong contender in the race for Japan's first sub-10, but with a Federation-sponsored training camp on his schedule immediately before the Twilight Games it's doubtful he'll run the time there. More likely is that he will use the race to work on his technique. Under those circumstances anything under 10.20 would put him in good position to be competitive in the semi-finals at the World Championships.
One of Japan's leading mother athletes, Fukumoto is the type who builds toward peak fitness through high-level performances in a series of competitions. It wouldn't be surprising to see her jump close to her National Championships-winning 1.90 m.
Other athletes who missed making the Moscow team will also be in the spotlight as they build back from disappointment. Among them, javelin star Roderick Genki Dean (21, Waseda Univ.), 400 m hurdler Tetsuya Tateno (21, Chuo Univ.) and sprinter Takumi Kuki (21, Waseda Univ.) were all part of the Japanese men's team at the London Olympics. Of particular interest is Dean. In London he finished 10th, but this spring his condition slipped and he lost ground to rival Yukifumi Murakami (33, Suzuki Hamamatsu AC). At both the National Championships and the World University Games he threw only 78 m. Fans will hope to see him get back on his feet with a return over-80 m territory.
On the second day of the July 30-Aug. 3 National High School Championships, Kiryu and Anna Doi (17, Saitama Sakae H.S.) are scheduled to run the 100 m. Besides the 100 m, Kiryu is also entered to run the 200 m and 4x100 m relay, with the possibility of also running the 4x400 relay. With a tough schedule like this it would be hard to run a fast time, but there are cases where the super-focused concentration of running in the biggest meet on the high school calendar has led to fast times. There's no telling whether Kiryu could come out of it with a sub-10.
Having become the youngest post-war Japanese Olympian in athletics last year in London, Doi experienced back trouble in February and is off to a late start this season. Her rival Yuki Jinbo (Kanazawa Nisui H.S.) has run 11.61 this year, better Doi's season best by 0.05 s. Doi's best is the national high school record, 11.43. If she cannot return to the 11.5 level it will be a challenge for her to win.