Skip to main content

Olympian Hitomi Niiya Announces Retirement

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2014/01/25/kiji/K20140125007456230.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner
photo by Mika Tokairin

On Jan. 25 a representative of Moscow World Championships women's 10000 m 5th-placer Hitomi Niiya (25, Team Universal Entertainment) announced Niiya's retirement.  A press conference to explain the decision is scheduled for Jan. 31.

Born in Okayama, as a student at Kojokan H.S. she won her stage at the National High School Ekiden Championships three years in a row.  In 2006 she joined the Toyota Jidoshoki corporate team, and the following year at age 18 won the first Tokyo Marathon.  In 2011 she left Toyota Jidoshokki to remain with coach Yoshio Koide when the team moved from Chiba to Aichi, qualifying as an independent for the Daegu World Championships where she made the final in the 5000 m.  After joining the Universal Entertainment team she won the 2012 National Championships 5000 m, and at the London Olympics she was 9th in the 10000 m after leading much of the race.  She lapped the entire field to set a meet record in the 10000 m at the 2013 National Championships before leading almost all the way in Moscow and taking 5th in a PB 30:56.70.  After Moscow she injured the sole of her right foot and has not raced again.

Translator's note: In a tearful interview immediately after her race in Moscow Niiya said, "I feel like there's no reason for me to be here.  There's no reason to be at Worlds if you can't medal."  Not long afterwards on her now-deleted Twitter account she said, "I think this race might have killed my career."

photo (c) 2013 Mika Tokairin
all rights reserved

Comments

Anna Novick said…
This breaks my heart. I hope she finds strength in running again ,and if that takes getting away from the publicity of racing, then that's what she should do.
Metts said…
I agree. She is too young to quit. She should take some time, even if its a year, and get back to running injury free. Even if she has to leave her professional running life and join an amatuer club. But that might be hard to do.

Most-Read This Week

How it Happened

Ancient History I went to Wesleyan University, where the legend of four-time Boston Marathon champ and Wes alum Bill Rodgers hung heavy over the cross-country team. Inspired by Koichi Morishita and Young-Cho Hwang’s duel at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics I ran my first marathon in 1993, qualifying for Boston ’94 where Bill was kind enough to sign a star-struck 20-year-old me’s bib number at the expo.

Three years later I moved to Japan for grad school, and through a long string of coincidences I came across a teenaged kid named Yuki Kawauchi down at my neighborhood track. I never imagined he’d become what he is, but right from the start there was just something different about him. After his 2:08:37 breakthrough at the 2011 Tokyo Marathon he called me up and asked me to help him get into races abroad. He’d finished 3rd on the brutal downhill Sixth Stage at the Hakone Ekiden, and given how he’d run the hills in the last 6 km at Tokyo ’11 I thought he’d do well at Boston or New York. “If M…

Kawauchi Breaks Nobeyama Ultra Course Record

2018 Boston Marathon winner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov’t) won the longest race of his career to date Sunday in Nagano, taking over six minutes off the Yatsugatake Nobeyama Kogen 71 km Ultramarathon in 4:41:55.

A training run for next month’s Stockholm Marathon, Kawauchi set off solo at a steady pace around 3:45/km. Climbing from 1355 m to 1908 m as he approached 20 km he naturally slowed, but with over 1000 m of descent over the next 30 km he was soon back on track. Hitting the marathon split around 2:39, he was so far ahead of the 2nd placer that the announcer initially forget Kawauchi had already gone by and announced the next runner as the leader.

At 58 km Kawauchi was on track to clear 4:30:00, but hitting the uphills in the final 10 km and feeling the effects of the unfamiliar distance he slowed to almost 5:00/km. But with so much leeway to work with there was never any danger of the 4:48:13 course record slipping out of reach. Kawauchi stopped the clock in 4:41:55, please…

Late-Bloomer Hiroko Yoshitomi Dropping One Course Record After Another

There’s a woman in her 30s who has been breaking marathon course records left and right. A native of Saga, her name is Hiroko Yoshitomi (34, Memolead). In the last year she has broken course records at three domestic marathons including a 2:33:57 at March’s Saga Sakura Marathon. “In terms of my age, I’ve still got years left to be breaking records,” Yoshitomi says. “If you approach your running in terms of that kind of thinking then it’s totally natural that the times are going to come.” At one point she had thought about retiring this season, but for now she’s determined to push on.

Tokyo-based running Industry conglomerate Rbies recently launched the Marathon Challenge Cup (MCC) series, a grouping of 33 domestic marathons across the country. In the 2017 season 19 of those member races saw a total of 23 new course records. The only person to set multiple new course records was Yoshitomi. Along with these records, at December’s Honolulu Marathon, February’s Tokyo Marathon and April’s…