Skip to main content

Kaori and Shiori Morita, Twin Sisters Dreaming of 2020

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/local/kanagawa/news/20140714-OYTNT50555.html

translated by Brett Larner

Yokohama natives and graduates of the city's Eda H.S. where they made a major impact on the distance events at last year's National High School Track and Field Championships, 18-year-old identical twin sisters Kaori and Shiori Morita joined the Yokohama-residing Panasonic women's corporate team this spring with the shared dream of making the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.  While working office jobs in the same division at Panasonic, the pair are pouring their sweat and tears into their training, preparing themselves with a solid base.

The sisters began to run seriously their first year of junior high school and, both showing exceptional coordination and ability, together qualified for the 800 m and 1500 m at Nationals just a year later.  At home they studied running form by trying to copy what they saw in videos, devoting themselves more and more to the world of competition.

At Eda H.S. they were also part of the school track and field team.  Kaori suffered from lower back pain and often had to take leaves of absence from the team, but by quietly training in the pool she continued to develop and strengthen her cardiovascular system.  As a senior, she ran a Kanagawa prefecture high school 1500 m record 4:17.59 at last summer's National High School Championships.

Shiori has a reputation for mental toughness.  "She has her off days, but when it comes to races nobody can match her focus," says Kaori of her sister.  Alongside Kaori, Shiori ran last summer's National High School Championships as a senior, finishing 15th in the 3000 m final.

At last January's National Women's Ekiden, the twins were selected to run the Sixth and Seventh Stages.  Kaori was 2nd on her stage and Shiori 3rd on hers, both making major contributions to the Kanagawa prefecture team's overall 5th-place podium finish.  "Recently they've started to realize that when they do well together their happiness is multiplied many times over," said their mother Chiharu Morita, 49, taking pleasure in her daughters' growth.

Post-graduation the sisters chose to follow their fellow Eda H.S. graduate Mika Yoshikawa, a London Olympian at 5000 m and 10000 m, to the Panasonic women's corporate team.  Every day from the morning until 3:30 p.m. they work desk jobs, heading to a track in Kawasaki after work for practice.  "At first they were indistinguishable," smiled head coach Toshiaki Kurabayashi, 49, but, he said, "they're both honest people, and with good futures as local stars they're enjoying themselves."

In May the twins made their corporate league debuts at the East Japan Corporate Track and Field Championships.  In the 3000 m Kaori was 4th and Shiori 11th, while in the 1500 m Kaori took 5th and Shiori 7th.  Six years remain until their Olympic goal.  They haven't decided yet which event they will target, but, both said, "We want to develop into athletes people can cheer for."  "Having a familiar rival nearby will be a big driving force," Kaori continued.  "I want us to train and race together all the way there," added Shiori.  With each giving the other a steady push in the back, the twins hope to chase their dream together.

Comments

Most-Read This Week

'Niiya and McSweyn Take Zatopek:10 Victories in Melbourne'

https://www.iaaf.org/news/report/niiya-mcsweyn-win-zatopek-10-2018

58th Zatopek:10Melbourne, Australia, 12/13/18
complete results

Women's 10000 m
1. Hitomi Niiya (Japan/Nike Tokyo TC) - 31:32.50
2. Sinead Diver (Australia) - 31:50.98
3. Ellie Pashley (Australia) - 32:17.81
4. Emily Brichacek (Australia) - 32:22.38
5. Camille Buscomb (New Zealand) - 32:28.37

Women's 1500 m
1. Whitney Sharpe (Australia) - 4:16.48
2. Madeleine Murray (Australia) - 4:18.36
3. Lilli Price (Australia) - 4:18.73
4. Natalie Rule (Australia) - 4:22.15
5. Isabella Thornton-Bott (Australia) - 4:23.53
-----
7. Ran Urabe (Japan/Nike Tokyo TC) - 4:27.32

action photo © 2018 Riley Wolff/Tempo Journal, all rights reserved
trophy photo © 2018 Masato Yokota, all rights reserved

Fukuoka Winner Yuma Hattori: "Running Isn't Fun"

At the Dec. 2 Fukuoka International MarathonYuma Hattori (25, Toyota) ran 2:07:27 to win and become the eighth-fastest Japanese man ever. It was the first time since 2004 that a Japanese man became the Fukuoka champion. Hattori now stands among the leading competitors in the fierce battle to make the 2020 Tokyo Olympics marathon team.

Hattori and his younger brother Hazuma Hattori (23, Toenec) were star members of Toyo University's 2014 Hakone Ekiden winning team. They rank among the most famous brothers in Japanese athletics, but neither of them actually wanted to be a runner. "I wanted to play soccer," Hattori said. "Hazuma wanted to play table tennis. We're from the sticks out in Niigata and my junior high school didn't have a soccer team. I thought about joining a club team, but it was too far away."

"My dad had been a decathlete," Hattori continued, "so I started doing track and field as well. My mom was a cross-country skier, so bo…

Iron Injections Remain an Issue in Japanese High School Girls' Distance Running

To treat anemia some of the country's top high school ekiden teams inappropriately utilize iron injections that could have a harmful effect on athletes' health.

Iron injections are primarily used to treat serious anemia arising from iron deficiency, but according to experts they also improve endurance. As a result their use has spread across the country over the last 20 years, primarily among female athletes who are more prone to anemia.

Following a 2015 case in which an athlete was confirmed to have suffered liver damage as a result of excess iron levels, in April, 2016 the JAAF issued a warning for coaches to stop the practice of injections, saying, "The accumulation of iron in the internal organs has deleterious effects on the body." In an interview two women who graduated prior to the JAAF's warning talked about their firsthand experience in high school. Under their coaches' direction both used iron injections throughout their high school careers and pro…