Skip to main content

Mongolia's #1 Marathoner Bat-Ochir to Join NTN Corporate Team in April

by Ryosuke Sakasegawa, published 1/30/14 in the Asahi newspaper
translated by Brett Larner and Mika Tokairin



Sumo is not the only sport where you can train in Japan to become strong.  Targeting the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, Mongolia's #1 marathoner Ser-Od Bat-Ochir, 32, is set to join the NTN corporate team in Kuwana, Mie in April.  Having won December's Hofu Yomiuri Marathon, Bat-Ochir looks set a threat to Japan's athletes at this fall's Asian Games and beyond.

Earlier this month Bat-Ochir took part in the NTN team's training camp in Miyazaki in preparation for the Feb. 2 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon.  At the time temperatures in the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator were 30 degrees below zero, but after completing a 2 1/2 hour run surrounded by Japan's southern seas Bat-Ochir said, "Mongolia is too cold to train enough, but the environment here in Miyazaki is superb."

Bat-Ochir took up the marathon after graduating from the Mongolian National Institute of Physical Education.  Watching a marathon on TV he thought, "It was interesting because you have to use your mind to win."  In Mongolia he had no competition.  Since 2003 he has run at every World Championships and Olympics but never placed better than 20th.

His times gradually improved, and in 2011 he broke 2:12 without the input of a coach. Telling a Japanese sports maker, "I want to train in Japan," Bat-Ochir received introductions to different corporate league teams and last year received an OK from NTN. In June just before the Moscow World Championships he did altitude training with the team at Ontake, Gifu.

"It's been 10 years since I started marathoning and I've never had a single injury," he said. "I don't get massages after workouts either and have never had problems."  NTN head coach Tadayoshi Kametaka was surprised by this toughness, the exact opposite of Japanese athletes who often get injured and can't stay consistent in their training.

At the Hofu Yomiuri Marathon Bat-Ochir took more than two minutes off his PB to finish in 2:09:00, beating civil servant runner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) for the win. Afterward, coach Kametaka said, "There's no excuse if you lose to another Asian.  I want to light a fire in Japan's younger athletes." With that line of thinking in mind, Kametaka made the arrangements for Bat-Ochir to be hired as a contract worker at NTN.

Of Sunday's Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon he said, "I'm going for the win, whatever time that takes." Looking ahead to the Asian Games he said, "I will win the gold medal."  Coach Kametaka said, "He has the ability to run 2:07."

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Daniel and Kawauchi Win Saitama International Marathon

After missing a medal by 3 seconds at August's London World Championships, defending champ Flomena Cheyech Daniel (Kenya) made it two in a row as she won a tight battle against Shitaye Habtegebrel (Bahrain) to win the Saitama International Marathon in 2:28:39.

With the onus on Japanese women Reia Iwada (Dome) and Kaori Yoshida (Team RxL) to break 2:29:00 in order to qualify for Japan's new-format 2020 Olympic trials race, the pair of them did most of the heavy lifting for the first two-thirds of the race. Yoshida led the early kilometers before Iwade took over, and through strong head and tailwinds, over rolling hills and around sharp turns Iwade kept things moving just under target pace, shaking the pack down to just her, Daniel, Habtegebrel and relative unknown Bekelech Daba (Ethiopia) by 15 km.

Little changed up front until after the lead group hit the start of the hilliest 10 km on the course after 25 km. For the first time Iwade slipped to the rear of the pack, and on a …

Ekiden Weekend Roundup

Ekiden season is in full swing, and across the country it was another busy weekend. Although there were four major ekidens nationwide, the best action came as runners from high school to the pros tuned up for the string of national championship ekiden races stretching from the end of this month to mid-January. At Kanagawa's Nittai University Time Trials meet, two-time steeplechase junior world champion Jonathan Ndiku (Hitachi Butsuryu) pipped 5000 m junior world championships bronze medalist William Malel (Honda) at the line in the 10000 m A-heat, winning in 27:22.73 to Malel's 27:22.79. Four other Kenyans including Ndiku's junior teammate Richard Kimunyan broke 28 minutes as their coaches eye who to run at the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden.



Evans Yego of the tiny Sunbelx supermarket team won the more conservative 5000 m A-heat in 13:48.04, a race most notable for high schoolers Luka Musembi (Sendai Ikuei H.S.), Masato Suzuki (Suijo H.S.) and Reito Hanzawa (Gakuho Ishikawa H.S.) …

Breaking Down the Best-Ever Japanese Marathon Times By Country

Japanese marathoners these days have the reputation of rarely racing abroad, and of rarely racing well when they do. Back in the day that wasn't true; Japanese marathoners have won all the World Marathon Majors-to-be except New York, and two of the three Japanese men to have run 2:06 and all three women to have run 2:19 did it outside Japan. Whatever the extent to which things did turn inward along the way, the last few years have seen an uptick in Japanese runners going farther afield and running better there than any others before them.

The lists above and below show the fastest times run by Japanese athletes in different countries to 2:20:00 for men and 2:45:00 for women. Japanese men have run sub-2:20 marathons in 37 countries around the world including Japan, with Japanese women having cleared 2:45 in 33 countries including at home. Breaking it down by IAAF label times, more Japanese men have run label standard times abroad, but women have typically performed at a higher label…