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

How it Happened

Ancient History I went to Wesleyan University, where the legend of four-time Boston Marathon champ and Wes alum Bill Rodgers hung heavy over the cross-country team. Inspired by Koichi Morishita and Young-Cho Hwang’s duel at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics I ran my first marathon in 1993, qualifying for Boston ’94 where Bill was kind enough to sign a star-struck 20-year-old me’s bib number at the expo.

Three years later I moved to Japan for grad school, and through a long string of coincidences I came across a teenaged kid named Yuki Kawauchi down at my neighborhood track. I never imagined he’d become what he is, but right from the start there was just something different about him. After his 2:08:37 breakthrough at the 2011 Tokyo Marathon he called me up and asked me to help him get into races abroad. He’d finished 3rd on the brutal downhill Sixth Stage at the Hakone Ekiden, and given how he’d run the hills in the last 6 km at Tokyo ’11 I thought he’d do well at Boston or New York. “If M…

The Kawauchi Counter

Yuki Kawauchi's 2018 race results: Jan. 1: Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, U.S.A.: 2:18:59 - 1st - CR
Jan. 14: Okukuma Road Race Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:03:28 - 7th
Jan. 21: Yashio Isshu Ekiden, Saitama: 1:01:03 - 1st - ran entire 20.0 km ekiden solo and beat all 103 teams of 6 runners each
Jan. 28: Okumusashi Ekiden First Stage (9.9 km), Saitama - 29:41 - 6th
Feb. 4: Saitama Ekiden Third Stage (12.1 km), Saitama - 36:54 - 4th
Feb. 11: Izumo Kunibiki Half Marathon, Shimane - cancelled due to heavy snow
Feb. 18: Kitakyushu Marathon, Fukuoka - 2:11:46 - 1st - CR
Feb. 25: Fukaya City Half Marathon, Saitama - 1:04:26 - 1st
Mar. 4: Kanaguri Hai Tamana Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:04:49 - 12th
Mar. 11: Yoshinogawa Riverside Half Marathon, Tokushima - 1:05:50 - 1st - CR
Mar. 18: Wan Jin Shi Marathon, Taiwan - 2:14:12 - 1st
Mar. 24: Heisei Kokusai University Time Trials, Saitama
              5000 m Heat 4: 14:53.95 - 1st
              5000 m Heat 6: 14:36.58 - 2nd
           …

“The Miracle in Fukuoka” - Real Talk From Yuki Kawauchi on “Taking on the World” (part 1)

http://sports.yahoo.co.jp/column/detail/201701120002-spnavi

translated by Brett Larner

Ahead of his nomination to the London World Championships Marathon team, Sportsnavi published a three-part series of writings by Yuki Kawauchi on what it took for him to make the team, his hopes for London, and his views on the future of Japanese marathoning.  With his place on the London team announced on Mar. 17, JRN will publish an English translation of the complete series over the next three days. See Sportsnavi's original version linked above for more photos. Click here for part two, "Bringing All My Experience Into Play in London," or here for part three, "The Lessons of the Past Are Not 'Outdated.'"


The Fukuoka International Marathon was held on Dec. 4 last year. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov’t) took part despite nursing injuries he had sustained in training. Falling rain contributed to less than ideal conditions during the race, but from the very early stages…