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Moscow World Championships Japanese Long Distance Preview

by Brett Larner

Click here for JRN's men's and women's marathon team previews.

Japan's long distance track squad for the Moscow World Championships is small but high on quality, by Japanese standards at least.  It's not likely many people outside Japan will pay much attention to the men's 10000 m team on Saturday, but with Japanese all-time #3 Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin), all-time #4 Suguru Osako (Waseda University) and #5 Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta) making up the team after finishing 1-2-3 at June's National Championships what's not to like?  Sato and Osako, both graduates of Nagano's Saku Chosei H.S., have had an intense rivalry going over the last two or three years with Osako beating the older Sato more often than not including at April's Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational where both went under the 27:40.00 Moscow A-standard, but when it has mattered, i.e. both last year and this year's National Championships, Sato has come through with superior closing speed.  Sato has said his goal in Moscow is to break his PB and get into the single-digit placings.  Considering that his current PB is only 3 seconds off the national record, it could be an historic race for the Japanese, especially if Osako goes with him again.  Ugachi, who Osako displaced on the all-time rankings at Payton Jordan, has tended toward longer distances and holds the all-time Japanese #4 half marathon mark.  His track times over the last year and a half have not lived up to his 2011 performances, but anything approaching his best would help make Moscow one of the potentially greatest track races in Japanese men's history.

Last month Sato added the all-time Japanese #3 5000 m time of 13:13.60 to his portfolio to clear the A-standard and, with the 5000 m heats happening after the opening day's 10000 m, he is planning to double.  From all appearances, though, the 10000 m will be his main focus, so don't look for him to clear the heats.

As in the marathon the women's squad is smaller, with just one athlete each in the 10000 m and 5000 m.  Likably eccentric 10000 m national champion Hitomi Niiya (Team Universal Etertainment) has had an unusual career, a high school star who tried to go straight to the marathon with a win at the first Tokyo Marathon at age 18 and spent several years smashing her head against it before giving up and returning to shorter distances. The star of the Toyota Jidoshokki team, she refused to leave Chiba and advising coach Yoshio Koide when the rest of the team moved to western Japan and was summarily fired, running as an independent for a time before being taken in by the Koide-coached Universal Entertainment team.  Doubling in the 5 and 10 in London, she made the all-time Japanese top ten over both distances including becoming only the third Japanese woman to break 31 minutes.  Undefeated this year except for a disastrous 82nd-place finish at the World XC Championships, she lapped the entire field at June's National Championships to set a meet record 31:06.67 off a slow first 3000 m.  With just a small step up the national record of 30:48.89 could be in range.

5000 m national champion Misaki Onishi (Team Sekisui Kagaku) is also based in Chiba. A relative unknown, she has had a great 2013 so far with PBs for 3000 m, 5000 m, road 10 km and half marathon. She broke the Moscow B-standard in winning her national title to unexpectedly make the team.  With few expectations on her making it out of the heats would be a major accomplishment as she continues to develop into one of Japan's top current women.

Men's 10000 m and 5000 m

Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin)


Born: 11/26/86, Shizuoka
Graduated: Tokai University, Saku Chosei H.S.
Coach: Teruoki Shirouzu


PBs
1500 m: 3:44.80 (East Japan Corporate Championships 2011)
3000 m: 7:44.63 (Oordegem 2010) - all-time Japanese #2
5000 m: 13:13.60 (Heusden 2013) - all-time Japanese #3
10000 m: 27:38.25 (Stanford 2009) - all-time Japanese #3
half marathon: 1:06:47 (Shizuoka 2012)
marathon: 2:16:31 (Tokyo Marathon 2013)

Major performances in 2013
12th, Monaco Diamond League 5000 m, 7/19/13 - 13:34.18
8th, KBC Nacht 5000 m A-Heat, 7/13/13 - 13:13.60 - PB
1st, National Championships 10000 m, 6/8/13 - 28:24.94
3rd, Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational 10000 m, 4/28/13 - 27:39.50
4th, Mount SAC Relays 5000 m, 4/19/13 - 13:30.57
31st, Tokyo Marathon, 2:16:31 - debut
10th, New Year Ekiden Sixth Stage (12.5 km) - 38:24

Men's 10000 m

Suguru Osako (Waseda University)


Born: 5/23/91, Tokyo
Graduated: Saku Chosei H.S.
Coach: Yasuyuki Watanabe


PBs
1500 m: 3:42.68 (Twilight Games, Tokyo 2012)
3000 m: 7:54.68 (Rieti 2012)
5000 m: 13:27.54 (Heusden 2013)
10000 m: 27:38.31 (Stanford 2013) - all-time Japanese #4, national collegiate record
half marathon: 1:01:47 (Ageo 2010)

Major performances in 2013
17th, KBC Nacht 5000 m A-heat, 7/13/13 - 13:27.54 - PB
2nd, National Championships 10000 m, 6/8/13 - 28:25.84
2nd, Kanto Regional University Championships 5000 m, 5/26/13 - 13:34.30
2nd, Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational 10000 m, 4/28/13 - 27:38.31 - PB
2nd, Fukuoka International XC 10 km, 2/23/13 - 29:50
1st, National Men's Ekiden Third Stage (8.5 km), 1/2/13 - 23:39
2nd, Hakone Ekiden Third Stage (21.5 km), 1:04:44

Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta)


Born: 4/27/87, Tochigi
Graduated: Komazawa University, Sakushin Gakuin H.S.
Coach: Katsumi Sakai


PBs
5000 m: 13:29.50 (Kanaguri Memorial 2012)
10000 m: 27:40.69 (Hachioji Long Distance Time Trials 2011) - all-time Japanese #5
half marathon: 1:00:58 (Marugame 2011) - all-time Japanese #4
30 km: 1:30:01 (Kumanichi 2012)

Major performances in 2013
4th, Hokuren Distance Challenge Fukagawa Meet, 6/29/13 - 13:30.77
3rd, National Championships 10000 m, 6/8/13 - 28:27.00
12th, Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational 10000 m, 4/28/13 - 27:55.27
1st, Oregon Relays 5000 m, 4/19/13 - 13:56.95
3rd, Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon, 1:01:16
2nd, New Year Ekiden Fourth Stage (22.0 km) - 1:03:20


Women's 10000 m



Born: 2/26/88, Okayama
Graduated: Kojokan H.S.
Coach: Yoshio Koide


PBs
1500 m: 4:22.75
3000 m: 9:08.86 (Okayama 2005)
5000 m: 15:10.20 (London Olympics 2012) - all-time Japanese #7
10000 m: 30:59.19 (London Olympics 2012) - all-time Japanese #3
half marathon: 1:11:41 (Matsue Ladies' Half Marathon 2008)
marathon: 2:30:58 (Nagoya International Women's Marathon 2009)

Major performances in 2013
1st, National Championships 10000 m, 7/7/13 - 31:06.67 - MR
82nd, World XC Championships 7.49 km, 3/24/13 - 27:20
1st, Fukuoka International XC 6 km, 2/23/13 - 20:00
1st, National Women's Ekiden Ninth Stage (10.0 km), 1/13/13 - 31:17

Women's 5000 m



Born: 2/24/85, Mie
Graduated: Uji Yamada Shogyo H.S.
Coach: Hidemori Noguchi


PBs
1500 m: 4:17.78 (Oita 2006)
3000 m: 9:10.13 (Kitami 2013)
5000 m: 15:21.73 (Tokyo 2013)
10 km: 32:58 (Yamaguchi 2013)
half marathon: 1:11:16 (Marugame 2013)

Major performances in 2013
1st, Hokuren Distance Challenge Kitami Meet 3000 m, 7/6/13 - 9:10.13 - PB
2nd, National Championships 5000 m, 6/9/13 - 15:21.73 - PB
5th, Golden Grand Prix, 5/5/13 - 15:38.30
6th, Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational 5000 m, 4/28/13 - 15:27.84
3rd, National Corporate 10 km Road Championships, 3/17/13 - 32:58 - PB
10th, Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon, 2/3/13 - 1:11:16 - PB
14th, National Women's Ekiden First Stage (6.0 km), 1/13/13 - 19:35

(c) 2013 Brett Larner
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