translated and edited by Brett Larner
The Japanese men's marathon team for the ongoing Moscow World Championships appeared at a Moscow-area press conference on Aug. 15 to talk about their ambitions for the Aug. 17 race. Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko), Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't), Hiroyuki Horibata (Team Asahi Kasei), Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki) and Masakazu Fujiwara (Team Honda) all took part in the press conference. With all five men having run 2:08 to earn a place on the team, talk of making the top eight on Saturday was the main topic.
Civil servant runner Kawauchi has taken his own unique approach to preparing for his second-straight World Championships, running a large number of races. In the last World Championships in Daegu he finished 18th, but his goal this time is to make the top six. Asked about his chances of medaling he gave a faint-hearted reply, answering, "Even if I run my absolute best it's impossible unless other athletes blow up." But, he added more firmly, "My training has been much better than two years ago, I'm feeling good, and I've built up a lot of overseas racing experience. I want to make the best use of that experience here. Last time was my first time and I didn't really know what I was doing, but as a member of the Japanese national team you have to have more self-awareness than that. I've learned a lot since then and this time I know what I'm doing. I think I can run a better race than two years ago, and with my goal of making the top six I hope I'm one of many Japanese men in the top eight. Now that we're here my spirits are rising and I'm eager to do it."
6th in last summer's London Olympics marathon and 10th in the Daegu World Championships marathon, Nakamoto expressed his hopes for conditions like those for the women's marathon on Aug. 10, saying, "I like it when it's hot, so I think I can be competitive this time. I hope it turns into a pure survival race." Running on his third-straight national team, even just two days before the race he was calm and collected as he said, "I can feel that there's some pressure on me, but if I can live up to expectations then I'll be happy. I've got experience and a little margin to spare as my training has been great and I'm in perfect shape. That 6th place in London is sticking in my mind and I aim to improve on it. I want to soak up the atmosphere here as I run and be the first Japanese man across the finish line."
Horibata, 7th in Daegu, suffered a stress fracture in his right foot in January and only began training a month and a half ago. "I had a blank period there due to injury and only started running again at the beginning of June," he said. "But I'm on the way up, getting better and feeling good. My training right before we got here was about as good as it was before the last World Championships. Within the limits of what's possible I want to run up front with the leaders."
Fujiwara, who made the 2003 Paris World Championships team off a 2:08:12 debut in college only to get injured and be unable to start the race, said, "Ten years ago I couldn't make it this far, so I'm feeling a little relieved in that respect. Just seeing the Japanese uniform stirs deep feelings inside me, but if I can't deliver the results then it doesn't mean anything. Basically I plan to run for the top eight and then take it from there and see how high up I can go. If things are moving right from the start I'll go with it."
Maeda, 39th at the 2009 Berlin World Championships, said, "Now that the race is drawing near I'm getting excited and motivated. I don't want this to end up like last time. The only thing I can do to make up for that is to get into the top eight."