Skip to main content

Omuta H.S. Second-Year Shota Onizuka Heads to World Juniors: "I Want to Test My Strength"

http://www.nishinippon.co.jp/nnp/f_chikugo/article/101635

translated by Brett Larner
photo by rikujolove

Omuta H.S. second-year Shota Onizuka, 16, is bound for Eugene, Oregon in the U.S.A. where he will compete in the July 22-27 World Junior Championships.  The meet features outstanding under-20 competitors from around the world including 43 from Japan selected from among the country's best high school and university athletes.

Onizuka is the first-ever Omuta H.S. student to be picked for the national team.  Last year he was Omuta's anchor in its runner-up finish at the National High School Ekiden Championships.  On the track he was also 2nd in a tight race at the National High School Championships, but the disappointment of losing by a margin of only one second served as motivation for his training and at a time trial meet this May he ran 13:58.43, the fastest time so far this year by a Japanese high schooler [above photo].

Onizuka leaves Japan on July 17 and will run the 5000 m at World Juniors along with Tokai University's Kazuto Kawabata.  "I want to bring the kind of running that will let me break my PB," Onizuka said of his goals for the Championships.  "I want to test my strength against foreign competition."  Omuta H.S. ekiden team head coach Ken Akaike gave Onizuka his encouragement, commenting, "He's part of the generation that is targeting the Tokyo Olympics.  I hope that he comes back with a feeling for the responsibility of wearing the Rising Sun and for the level of competition in the rest of the world and that it serves as a stimulus for his continued growth."

photo (c) 2014 M. Kawaguchi
all rights reserved

Comments

Matt Holton said…
Looking forward to seeing you race in Eugene.

Most-Read This Week

Kipsang Talking Loud and Aga Mumbling Bold - Tokyo Marathon Preview

After stepping up to the big leagues last year with course records in the 2:03 and 2:19 range, the Tokyo Marathon hopes to go one better this year. Men's course record setter Wilson Kipsang (Kenya) is back, stepping up from a 2:03:50 prediction for Tokyo in January to a 2:02:50 world record prediction at Friday's pre-race press conference. In the unmentioned absence of women's course record breaker Sarah Chepchirchir the top-ranked woman is Ruti Aga (Ethiopia), coming in hot off a 1:06:39 win last month in Houston and turning heads at the press conference with a boldly mumbled 2:18:00 prediction.

Management for both Kipsang and Aga were skeptical to JRN of their athletes' predictions, people from each camp saying times two minutes slower would be more likely, one minute slower in a best-case scenario. But whatever the prediction, Kipsang was clear to fellow past champs Feyisa Lilesa (Ethiopia) and Dickson Chumba (Kenya) about one thing: he wants a more conservative fi…

The Greatest Day in Japanese Men's Marathoning History

This isn't going to be a race recap. Past Tokyo Marathon champs Dickson Chumba of Kenya and Birhane Dibaba of Ethiopia running smart races, working hard after 30 km to each score a second Tokyo title, Dibaba negative splitting her way to a 2:19:51 PB just 4 seconds off the course record and Chumba running away to win in 2:05:30. London World Championships bronze medalist Amy Cragg living up to her pre-race vow to make the top three in PB time, taking 3rd in 2:21:42. Cancer survivor Satoru Kasuya delivering his best performance since almost dying five years ago, an emotional 2:14:37 for 30th.

What this is about is today, the day, the one that's been coming. Yuta Shitara getting it right, strong, unafraid, in control when he needed to be, finding what he needed when it counted, breaking the 16-year-old Japanese national record in 2:06:11 and winning a million dollar bonus for it. But not just him. Hiroto Inoue, just as strong, just as in control, never giving up even when Shita…

Kenyans Kabuu, Jemeli and Cheyech Lead Nagoya Women's Marathon Field

The Nagoya Women's Marathon is the largest women-only marathon in the world, one with a long history as an elite race and adapting to the times with a mass-participation field of 20,000. The last few years it has seen a series of dynamic, high-level performances by top Japanese women, from Sairi Maeda's 2:22:48 in 2015 to the 2:23:19 to 2:23:20 sprint finish battle between Tomomi Tanaka and Rei Ohara in 2016 to Yuka Ando's stellar 2:21:36 debut and teammate Mao Kiyota's 2:23:47 breakthrough last year.

Maeda, Ohara and Kiyota all return this year to face the Kenyan trio of Lucy Kabuu, Valary Jemeli and Flomena Cheyech Daniel. Kabuu went to high school in Japan before moving on to the big leagues, but she hasn't finished a marathon since her 2:20:21 in Dubai 2015. Cheyech also used to be based in Japan as is a familiar face here, winning the last two Saitama International Marathons. Jemeli is making her Japanese debut, and with a 2:21:57 win in Prague and a 2:20:53 …