Skip to main content

Japan's Marathon Women Can Still Aim for the Win

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/running/kataru/20140723-OYT8T50026.html

translated by Brett Larner

Part of a series, an interview with former women's marathon world record holder and Sydney Olympics gold medalist Naoko Takahashi, the first woman to ever break 2:20 for the marathon.

With regard to the Japanese athletics world, ever since Mizuki Noguchi won the medal at the Athens Olympics women's long distance has taken a downturn.

Yes, it has fallen a bit, hasn't it?

Are there any athletes in particular that you're paying special attention to?

Personally speaking, I'm watching Natsuki Omori from Ritsumeikan University. She never made the National High School Championships, but now that she's in her second year of university she has just exploded and is developing quickly. She's aggressive and has really nice form, so if she can keep going like this for four years without getting injured then I want to see her go to the marathon. She's somebody I'm really excited about.

Omori is 20 this year, so when the Tokyo Olympics happen she'll be 26.

The perfect age.  When I ran Sydney I was 28.  Right now as a university student she hasn't run even one marathon, but I think there's plenty of chance that we'll see her there at the 2020 Olympics.

What do you think needs to be done to improve the current situation?

I don't think our women are in a position right now where medals are out of reach.  If you ask why, well, look at the men's world record, low 2:03.  The Japanese men's national record is 2:06:16.  Toshinari Takaoka ran that in 2002 at the Chicago Marathon, but in all the time since then nobody has broken it.  However, in today's world there are loads of athletes, Africans included, running 2:06.  Japanese men still have to break through that.

The women's world record is Paula Radcliffe's 2:15:25 from 2003, but the next-fastest is 2:18.  If you can run 2:19 you've got a shot at winning races around the world.  Japan has three women who've run 2:19, Noguchi, Yoko Shibui and me.  We proved that Japanese people can break 2:20, and of course the knowhow of how to make that happen is still there.  I think this should be a major boost.  Our women should be going into any race in the world seriously targeting the win.  That's the way I did it, but having doubts about whether something is really possible because you're going where nobody has gone before and following the road that others have already opened up are completely different situations.  I want to see all of our women have more confidence and really believe that they can do it too.

Children today are taller and have longer legs than when I was a kid.  They're blessed with talent.  All they need is to blossom.  There's no reason that can't happen.

Naoko Takahashi - Sportscaster, marathon commentator, JAAF executive member, JOC executive member, professor at Osaka Gakuin University.  Born May 6, 1972 in Gifu.  Began running in junior high school, joining the corporate leagues after graduating from Gifu Shogyo H.S. and Osaka Gakuin University.  Made her marathon debut in January, 1997 at the Osaka International Women's Marathon. Won the Nagoya International Women's Marathon in March, 1998.  In December the same year she set a then-Asian record 2:21:47 to win the Asian Games. In September, 2000 she won the gold medal at the Sydney Olympics, leading to her selection for the People's Honor Award.  In September, 2001 at the Berlin Marathon she became the first woman to break 2:20, winning in a world record 2:19:46.  In May, 2005 she left her longtime coach Yoshio Koide.  In November that year she ran her first marathon in two years, winning the Tokyo International Women's Marathon in 2:24:39.  She announced her retirement in October, 2008.

Comments

Anna Novick said…
"That's the way I did it, but having doubts about whether something is really possible because you're going where nobody has gone before and following the road that others have already opened up are completely different situations."

No truer words were said.

Most-Read This Week

Kenenisa Bekele Withdraws from Tokyo Marathon with Stress Fracture

The Tokyo Marathon Foundation announced on Feb. 20 that 5000 m and 10000 m world record holder Kenenisa Bekele (Ethiopia) has withdrawn from the Mar. 3 Tokyo Marathon 2019 due to injury. The statement read, "He has a stress fracture that is going to take a little more time to heal. His motivation to recover and set his sights on a new goal is high, but unfortunately it seems that is still going to take a while."

#2-ranked Marius Kipserem (Kenya) has also withdrawn with injuries. On the domestic front, Kengo Suzuki (23, Fujitsu) has pulled out due to his condition. Yohei Suzuki (24, Aisan Kogyo) and Shinobu Kubota (27, Toyota) have also sustained injuries that will prevent them from starting. In the women's race, 2017 London World Championships team member Yuka Ando, 24, who earlier this month transferred from the Suzuki Hamamatsu AC team to the Wacoal corporate team, is also out with injury.

source article:
https://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20190220-00000112-sph-spo
trans…

Cheboitibin Breaks Seko's Course Record at Ome 30 km

One of Japan's longest-standing course records at its elite races fell Sunday as Kenyan Ezekiel Cheboitibin (Sunbelx) beat the great Toshihiko Seko's 38-year-old Ome 30 km Road Race record by almost 30 seconds.

Tough and hilly with a net climb in the first half and descent on the return trip, Ome is a standard spring marathon prep run and a natural partner for April's Boston Marathon, with which it has a longstanding athlete exchange program. The 2017 Ome winner, this time out Cheboitibin was gunning for Seko's record from the start, hitting the mostly uphill 10 km completely solo in 29:47, 20 km midway through the return trip in 59:30, and saving his fastest 10 km split for the end as he crossed the finish line in 1:29:06. Seko's 1:29:32 just two months before his first Boston win had made him the only man in Ome history to break 90 minutes. With the best performance of his career Cheboitibin turned the page on that history.

With the withdrawal of Fukuoka winner

Last Chance for Tokyo 2020? - Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon Elite Field

With just under three weeks to go the organizers of the Mar. 10 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon's 74th running have finally released the elite field. For Japanese men it's the last chance - almost - to qualify for September's MGC Race 2020 Olympic marathon trials, the last domestic race with up to six spots up for grabs for anyone under 2:11:00 or 2:10:00 and more for anyone else under 2:08:30 or averaging under 2:11:00 between Lake Biwa and another marathon in the last year and a half. The window on that last two-race option runs through April 30th so there will still be a few chances left, but realistically for most of the men at Lake Biwa this is it, all or nothing for a home soil Olympic team.

There's a good international field of twelve African-born runners of eight nationalities at the 2:06 to 2:09 level to help pull the Japanese men to hit those times. Last year's winner Macharia Ndirangu (Kenya/Aichi Seiko) is back, ranked 6th in a field led by 2:06 men Deribe…