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Federation Announces Creation of National Marathon Team to Transform Athletes' Thinking and Deal With Heat of Summer Championship Races

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translated and edited by Brett Larner

The Japanese Federation has announced the creation of a National Marathon Team geared toward preparing for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.  The team is made up of twelve men and nine women including Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't), Moscow World Championships women's marathon 4th-place Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu) and the other two members of this fall's Asian Games marathon team, Moscow women's marathon bronze medalist Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal), men's marathon 5th-placer Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki), 2004 Athens Olympics women's marathon gold medalist and national record holder Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex).

The goal of the team is to win medals and land other athletes near the podium at the Rio Olympics.  Athletes' membership will be reviewed on an annual basis, and preference will be given to team members in Olympic selection races if they run similar times to non-members.  Federation development committee vice-chariman Katsumi Sakai discussed the Federation's goals in creating a National Team for the marathon, an individual sport.  "We would like to change the way of thinking of our athletes and their coaches," he said.  The Federation hopes to transform athlete's focus away from domestic ekidens and just making Olympics and World Championships teams to actually targeting medals at the world level, sharing information and raising athlete awareness at regularly-held team training camps.

Another focus will be on measures to deal with the hot conditions at the Olympics and other summer races.  This year the men on the team will train for ten days in August in Kushiro, Hokkaido, and again in Shibetsu, Hokkaido for ten days in September, with women scheduled to train in the United States during the month of June. Athlete participation in the training camps is obligatory.  The camps will include at least two 40 km runs, with athletes' blood and urine profiles taken and changes in their body temperature and weight recorded pre- and post-run.  Analysis of the data on how the athletes adapt to heat will factor into future world-level team selection.  In the event that two athletes run similar times in a selection race, the Federation's new policy will be to give preference to National Team members who the Federation has determined to have shown reliability and stability.  The data will also be shared with athletes to help them increase their competitive potential, available in an ongoing database.  Not just for the Rio Olympics but for the Tokyo Olympics and beyond, the Federation hopes the program will help maximize potential gains in athlete development and selection.

Japanese National Marathon Team

Men
Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko) - 2:08:00 (Tokyo 2013)
Kohei Matsumura (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) - 2:08:09 (Tokyo 2014)
Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 2:08:14 (Seoul Int'l 2013)
Hiroyuki Horibata (Team Asahi Kasei) - 2:08:24 (Fukuoka Int'l 2012)
Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki) - 2:08:35 (Beppu-Oita 2013)
Koji Kobayashi (Team Subaru) - 2:08:51 (Tokyo 2014)
Hirokatsu Kurosaki (Team Konica Minolta) - 2:09:07 (Tokyo 2014)
Suehiro Ishikawa (Team Honda) - 2:09:10 (Lake Biwa 2013)
Masanori Sakai (Team Kyudenko) - 2:09:10 (Tokyo 2014)
Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 2:09:30 (Beppu-Oita 2014)
Satoru Sasaki (Team Asahi Kasei) - 2:09:47 (Lake Biwa 2014)
Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota) - 2:11:50 (Tokyo 2014)

Women
Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex) - 2:19:12 (Berlin 2005)
Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya) - 2:23:23 (Osaka Women's 2012)
Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu) - 2:23:34 (Nagoya Women's 2013)
Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) - 2:24:38 (Chicago 2011)
Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:25:26 (Nagoya Women's 2012)
Eri Hayakawa (Team Toto) - 2:25:31 (Nagoya Women's 2014)
Yuko Watanabe (Team Edion) - 2:25:56 (Osaka Women's 2013)
Tomomi Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 2:26:05 (Nagoya Women's 2014)
Sairi Maeda (Team Daihatsu) - 2:26:46 (Osaka Women's 2014)

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