Thursday, July 31, 2014

Kuraoka and Maeda Take 1500 m Titles on Second Day of National High School Track and Field Championships

by Brett Larner

The second day of the 2014 National High School Track and Field Championships brought even hotter temperatures than the first, 36 degrees at the time of the girls' and boys' mid-afternoon 1500 m finals.  The girls' race started with a mishap as #1-ranked Japanese runner Karin Yasumoto (Suma Gakuen H.S.) was tripped in the first 50 m as the field crowded together, landing flat on her face and ultimately ending up second-to-last.  #1-seeded Kenyan Monica Margaret (Aomori Yamada H.S.) shot to the front and opened a lead of over 50 m by halfway, with the two slowest qualifiers for the final, Nana Kuraoka (Kagoshima Joshi H.S.) and Azusa Sumi (Toyokawa H.S.) breaking from the chase pack early in pursuit.

By 800 m Margaret had started come back, and both Kuraoka and Sumi went by her with 200 m to go.  Kuraoka continued her momentum and dropped Sumi on the curve to take the win in 4:20.82.  Behind her the pack caught Margaret and made contact with Sumi in the home straight.  #3-seeded Mina Kato (Hakuho Joshi H.S.) fought her way past into 2nd in 4:23.35, Sumi hanging on to the podium in 4:23.93.  Margaret, still a first-year, paid for her early frontrunning as she dropped to 9th in 4:30.72.

In the boys' race #3-ranked Haruki Nishimura (Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S.) led the first lap in 61 seconds with the rest of the field lined out behind him.  Slowing over the next 300 m, he was overtaken by #2-ranked Renya Maeda (Funabashi Civic H.S.) at 700 m.  Maeda maintained the lead for the next lap, but despite a challenge at the bell he stayed ahead through the final lap, outkicking #1-ranked Masahide Saito (Waseda Prep Jitsugyo H.S.) for the win in 3:51.47, Saito just behind in 3:51.84.  In post-race interviews Maeda was one of many winners of the day to state his hope of making the 2020 Tokyo Olympics team.

In other events, Tokyo High School athletes won both the women's and men's 100 m finals.  Buffeted by a 2.4 m/s headwind, Tokyo's Edoba Iyoba took down the hopes of yesterday's 400 m winner Seika Aoyama (Matsue Shogyo H.S.) of a double, winning in 12.06 to Aoyama's 12.12.  Iyoba's teammate Kenta Oshima, 4th last year as a first-year, had no trouble dealing with a 2.0 m/s headwind after winning the South Kanto regional qualifier against a headwind of over 6.0 m/s, taking the national title in 10.64 off a 10.37 in the semi-finals.  Sayori Matsumoto (Nara Ikuei H.S.) gritted out a win in the girls' 5000 m race walk, her 23:24.68 a quality mark given the heat.  Shingo Sawa (Taisha H.S.) cleared 5.25 m to win the boys' pole vault, while Haruka Nakano (Nakamura Gakuen Joshi H.S.) took the girls' high jump in 1.78 m.  In the day's lone throw final, Haruka Kitaguchi (Asahikawa Higashi H.S.) threw 52.16 m to win the girls' javelin.  Shun Taue of Rakunan H.S., the alma mater of World Junior Championships double medalist Yoshihide Kiryu, won the boys' octathlon comfortably in 5758 with a margin of over 100 points.

The 2014 National High School Track and Field Championships continue through Sunday, Aug. 3.

2014 National High School Track and Field Championships Day Two
Kofu, Yamanashi, July 31
click here for complete results
click here for comprehensive results in English 

Girls' 1500 m Final
1. Nana Kuraoka (Kagoshima Joshi H.S.) - 4:20.82
2. Mina Kato (Hakuho Joshi H.S.) - 4:23.35
3. Azusa Sumi (Toyokawa H.S.) - 4:23.93
4. Yuka Kobayashi (Tokiwa H.S.) - 4:24.44
5. Kanako Yahagi (Aomori Yamada H.S.) - 4:24.54
6. Ayaka Nakagawa (Shohei Gakuen H.S.) - 4:25.41
7. Yuki Kometani (Tokiwa H.S.) - 4:25.54
8. Wakana Kabasawa (Tokiwa H.S.) - 4:27.65
9. Monica Margaret (Aomori Yamada H.S.) - 4:30.72
10. Arisa Yamamoto (Tottori Chuo Ikuei H.S.) - 4:31.21

Boys' 1500 m Final
1. Renya Maeda (Funabashi Civic H.S.) - 3:51.47
2. Masahide Saito (Waseda Prep Jitsugyo H.S.) -  3:51.84
3. Motoki Nabeshima (Katsura H.S.) - 3:52.85
4. Taisei Hashizume (Wakayama Kita H.S.) - 3:53.54
5. Ko Kobayashi (Toyo Prep Ushiku H.S.) - 3:53.63
6. Kohei Arai (Urawa Jitsugyo H.S.) - 3:53.64
7. Takanori Hayashi (Gakuho Ishikawa H.S.) -  3:53.66
8. Yota Endo (Yamagata Minami H.S.) - 3:53.68
9. Ryuya Kajiya (Hakuo Prep Ashikaga H.S.) - 3:54.81
10. Kaito Yamamura (Kobayashi H.S.) - 3:55.16

Girls' 100 m Final - 2.4
1. Edoba Iyoba (Tokyo H.S.) - 12.06
2. Hinako Sato (Sakata Minami H.S.) - 12.07
3. Seika Aoyama (Matsue Shogyo H.S.) - 12.12
4. Kotomi Eguchi (Shohei Gakuen H.S.) - 12.13
5. Sayaka Adachi (Oita Oginodai H.S.) - 12.19
6. Risa Akita (Seiryo H.S.) - 12.21
7. Ichiko Iki (Kyoto Tachibana H.S.) - 12.26
8. Natsumi Asano (Mizuhashi H.S.) - 12.27

Boys' 100 m Final - 2.0
1. Kenta Oshima (Tokyo H.S.) - 10.64
2. Makoto Takiuchi (Kinki Prep Fuzoku H.S.) - 10.68
3. Akihisa Kondo (Aichi Kogyo Prep Meiden H.S.) - 10.71
4. Akiyoshi Ono (Toyo Prep Ashikaga H.S.) - 10.75
5. Shunto Nagata (Isahaya H.S.) - 10.75
6. Shuhei Tada (Osaka Toin H.S.) - 10.78
7. Takumi Masuda (Sakuyakonohana H.S.) - 10.80
8. Hirotaka Takamatsu (Hokkaido Sakae H.S.) - 10.85

Girls' 5000 m Race Walk
1. Sayori Matsumoto (Nara Ikuei H.S.) - 23:24.68
2. Mizuka Takayama (Toyama Shogyo H.S.) - 23:29.57
3. Yukiho Mizoguchi (Nagano Higashi H.S.) - 23:45.80
4. Nanoka Ueda (Amagasaki Civic H.S.) - 23:52.11
5. Riho Sugimoto (Shigakukan H.S.) - 23:55.86

Boys' Pole Vault
1. Shingo Sawa (Taisha H.S.) - 5.25 m
2. Kosaku Miyake (Kanonji H.S.) - 5.15 m
3. Takuma Arai (Kashiwa Nittai Prep H.S.) - 5.15 m
4. Kairi Uematsu (Hamamatsu Kita H.S.) - 5.10 m
5. Takumi Okamoto (Yokohama Seifu H.S.) - 5.05 m

Girls' High Jump
1. Haruka Nakano (Nakamura Gakuen Joshi H.S.) - 1.78 m
2. Satomi Teratani (Kurayoshi Higashi H.S.) - 1.75 m
3. Jeliah Tsuda (Higashi Osaka Prep Keiai H.S.) - 1.75 m
4. Saki Matsui (Chukyo Prep Chukyo H.S.) - 1.75 m
5. Sayaka Shimizu (Yachiyo Shoin H.S.) - 1.72 m

Girls' Javelin Throw
1. Haruka Kitaguchi (Asahikawa Higashi H.S.) - 52.16 m
2. Minami Kajihara (Osaka Kunei Joshi Gakuin H.S.) - 52.10 m
3. Raimu Tanaka (Kurashiki Chuo H.S.) - 51.70 m
4. Mikako Yamashita (Kyoto Kyoei Gakuen H.S.) - 49.15 m
5. Nagisa Mori (Meijo Prep Fuzoku H.S.) - 46.87 m

Boys' Octathlon
1. Shun Taue (Rakunan H.S.) - 5758
2. Kai Kawabata (Kinki Prep Kogyo H.S.) - 5655
3. Rei Yamashita (Sundai Kofu H.S.) - 5649
4. Yu Kishikawa (Nagasaki Nihon Prep H.S.) - 5645
5. Suguru Shiozaki (Takikawa Daini H.S.) - 5622

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

World Juniors Silver Medalist Kitagawa Leads First Day of National High School Track and Field Championships

by Brett Larner

With temperatures clipping 35 degrees the 2014 National Track and Field Championships kicked off July 30 in Kofu, Yamanashi, home ground of 2013 National High School Boys' Ekiden champion Yamanashi Gakuin Prep H.S.  The biggest news on the first of the meet's five days of competition came in the boys' 400 m.  48 hours after helping the Japanese team win silver in the 4x400 m relay at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Eugene, U.S.A., Takamasa Kitagawa (Uruga H.S.) swept through the competition, winning his opening round heat in 48.22 and his semi-final in 47.23 before taking the final in 46.57, the 10th-fastest time ever by a Japanese high schooler.  Satoshi Yamamoto (Amakusa Kogyo H.S.) gave Kitagawa a solid challenge in the final but had to settle for 2nd in 46.61.  Seika Aoyama (Matsue Shogyo H.S.) had a clearer margin of victory in the girls' 400 m final, winning the national title in 53.73 by 0.21 seconds over runner-up Nanako Matsumoto (Hamamatsu Civic H.S.).

The day's hottest temperatures came in time for the boys' and girls' 1500 m qualifying heats.  Masahide Saito (Waseda Prep Jitsugyo H.S.) and Renya Maeda (Funabashi Civic H.S.) led the way in the boys' qualifiers, both going under 3:52 in Heat 3.  Five more runners in Heats 2 and 3 cleared 3:53, with Heat 1 winner Tsubasa Komuro (Sendai Ikuei H.S.) and Heat 4 winner Motoki Nabeshima (Katsura H.S.) both over 3:55.  Kenyan Monica Margaret (Aomori Yamada H.S.) led the girls' qualifiers in 4:23.96 in Heat 2, the only girl to clear 4:24, but eight other runners including Heat 2 runner-up Karin Yasumoto (Suma Gakuen H.S.), Heat 4 winner Mina Kato (Hakuho Joshi H.S.) and Heat 3 winner Yuka Kobayashi (Tokiwa H.S.) finished within 0.68 seconds of her time, promising an exciting final.

The 2014 National High School Track and Field Championships continue through Aug. 3.  The entire meet is being streamed live over four channels, one each for track events, jumps, throws and combined events.  Click here to watch the live streams, which are continuous virtually all day Japanese time.  Click here for a complete meet schedule.

2014 National High School Track and Field Championships Day One
Kofu, Yamanashi, July 30
click here for official results
click here for comprehensive results in English

Boys' 400 m Final
1. Takamasa Kitagawa (Uruga H.S.) - 46.57
2. Satoshi Yamamoto (Amakusa Kogyo H.S.) - 46.61
3. Manato Sasaki (Morioka Minami H.S.) - 47.37
4. Kazuki Ota (Numazu Higashi H.S.) - 47.71
5. Takeshi Iwamoto (Kyoto Ryoyo H.S.) - 47.79
6. Shota Terai (Isahaya H.S.) - 47.93
7. Yuto Asakawa (Nagano Prefectural H.S.) - 48.28
8. Kazuki Nomura (Miyazaki Kogyo H.S.) - 48.44

Girls' 400 m Final
1. Seika Aoyama (Matsue Shogyo H.S.) - 53.73
2. Nanako Matsumoto (Hamamatsu Civic H.S.) - 53.94
3. Haruko Ishizuka (Higashi Osaka Prep Keiai H.S.) - 54.63
4. Miyu Mori (Tohoku H.S.) - 54.79
5. Yuna Iwata (Niijima Gakuen H.S.) - 55.00
6. Ayaha Kimoto (Higashi Osaka Prep Keiai H.S.) - 55.11
7. Masumi Okuda (Tokyo H.S.) - 56.10
8. Yuka Kyotani (Kushiro Konan H.S.) - 57.28

Boys' 1500 m Qualifiers
Masahide Saito (Waseda Prep Jitsugyo H.S.) - 3:51.35 (Heat 3)
Renya Maeda (Funabashi Civic H.S.) - 3:51.83 (Heat 3)
Haruki Nishimura (Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S.) - 3:52.59 (Heat 3)
Takanori Hayashi (Gakuho Ishikawa H.S.) - 3:52.75 (Heat 2)
Ko Kobayashi (Toyo Prep Ushiku H.S.) - 3:52.88 (Heat 2)
Kaito Yamamura (Kobayashi H.S.) - 3:52.93 (Heat 3)
Yota Endo (Yamagata Minami H.S.) - 3:52.98 (Heat 2)
Ryuya Kajiya (Hakuo Prep Ashikaga H.S.) - 3:53.08 (Heat 2)
Naoto Ozawa (Kusatsu Higashi H.S.) - 3:53.37 (Heat 2)
Taisei Hashizume (Wakayama Kita H.S.) - 3:53.38 (Heat 3)
Motoki Nabeshima (Katsura H.S.) - 3:55.46 (Heat 4)
Takehiro Matsuda (Sabae H.S.) - 3:55.56 (Heat 4)
Shoma Funatsu (Fukuoka Prep Ohori H.S.) - 3:55.57 (Heat 4)
Tsubasa Komuro (Sendai Ikuei H.S.) - 3:56.81 (Heat 1)
Takeshi Okada (Koku Gakuin Prep Kugayama H.S.) - 3:56.95 (Heat 1)
Kohei Arai (Urawa Jitsugyo H.S.) - 3:57.05 (Heat 1)

Girls' 1500 m Qualifiers
Monica Margaret (Aomori Yamada H.S.) - 4:23.96 (Heat 2)
Karin Yasumoto (Suma Gakuen H.S.) - 4:24.06 (Heat 2)
Mina Kato (Hakuho Joshi H.S.) - 4:24.11 (Heat 4)
Hinano Yamada (Toyokawa H.S.) - 4:24.12 (Heat 2)
Arisa Yamamoto (Tottori Chuo Ikuei H.S.) - 4:24.33 (Heat 2)
Wakana Kabasawa (Tokiwa H.S.) - 4:24.38 (Heat 2)
Mina Ueda (Narita H.S.) - 4:24.49 (Heat 4)
Yuka Kobayashi (Tokiwa H.S.) - 4:24.59 (Heat 3)
Yuki Kometani (Tokiwa H.S.) - 4:24.64 (Heat 4)
Nodoka Aoki (Mashita Seifu H.S.) - 4:25.07 (Heat 4)
Yuka Sarumida (Toyokawa H.S.) - 4:25.10 (Heat 4)
Kanako Yahagi (Aomori Yamada H.S.) - 4:25.74 (Heat 3)
Sayuri Shiratori (Sahara H.S.) - 4:26.17 (Heat 3)
Ayaka Nakagawa (Shohei Gakuen H.S.) - 4:26.79 (Heat 1)
Nana Kuraoka (Kagoshima Joshi H.S.) - 4:26.85 (Heat 1)
Azusa Sumi (Toyokawa H.S.) - 4:26.99 (Heat 1)

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Four-Channel Live Streaming of Japanese National High School Track and Field Championships

Hot on the heels of a strong team showing at last weekend's World Junior Championships, the 2014 Japanese National High School Track and Field Championships are being streamed live on four separate discipline-specific channels from July 30 to Aug. 3. Watch below. Click here for a complete event schedule.




Combined Events

Izumo Ekiden Announces Teams for 26th Running on Oct. 13

The first of the Big Three University Ekidens that make up the core of the year for Japanese collegiate distance men, the six-stage, 45.1 km Izumo Ekiden takes place Oct. 13.  On July 30 organizers released the full of 21 teams that will compete at this year's 26th running, led by defending champion and course record holder Komazawa University and 2014 Hakone Ekiden winner Toyo University.  The U.S, Ivy League Select Team will also return for its 17th Izumo appearance.

2014 Izumo Ekiden Field

Kanto Region
Komazawa University (22nd appearance)
Toyo University (15th appearance)
Nittai University (17th appearance)
Waseda University (22nd appearance)
Aoyama Gakuin University (5th appearance)
Meiji University (6th appearance)
Nihon University (21st appearance)
Teikyo University (6th appearance)
Takushoku University (3rd appearance)
Daito Bunka University (16th appearance)

Tokai Region
Chukyo University (9th appearance)

Kansai Region
Ritsumeikan University (13th appearance)
Kwansei Gakuin University (5th appearance)

Chugoku Region
Hiroshima Keizai University (13th appearance)

Kyushu Region
Daiichi Kogyo University (19th appearance)
Nippon Bunri University (9th appearance)

Regional Select Teams
Hokkaido Region University Select Team (26th appearance)
Tohoku Region University Select Team (26th appearance)
Hokushinetsu Region University Select Team (26th appearance)
Chugoku-Shikoku Region University Select Team (26th appearance)
Ivy League Select Team (17th appearance)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Hakone Ekiden Course Change Means the End for Current Course Records

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The Inter-University Athletic Union of Kanto (KGRR) announced on July 28 that changes to the Hakone Ekiden's 23.4 km Fifth Stage and 20.8 km Sixth Stage mean that the existing records for those two stages along with the current Day One, Day Two and overall course records will be replaced at the 91st running of Japan's biggest sporting event on Jan. 2-3, 2015.  The entire course will also be remeasured, meaning additional changes to other stages are possible.

The uphill Fifth Stage was lengthened in 2006 at the 82nd running to become the longest of the race at 23.4 km with 864 m of climb.  Since then, every university that has won the Fifth Stage has also taken the Hakone Day One title, earning it the reputation of being the most dramatic and exciting part of the Hakone Ekiden.  From 2009 to 2012 Toyo University's "God of the Mountain" Ryuji Kashiwabara (now Team Fujitsu) won the Fifth Stage four straight years, breaking the stage record three times and earning national celebrity. 

On Feb. 6 the Kanrei Domon tunnel through which the Fifth and Sixth Stages pass was closed to traffic, meaning that the 91st Hakone Ekiden must use a newly-built bypass instead.  The change in distance from the traditional course is relatively minor, the bypass at 6.2 km on the Fifth Stage and 17.1 km on the Sixth Stage adding roughly 20 meters to each stage, but it means that Kashiwabara's 2012 record of 1:16:39, revered as a superhuman feat in Japanese athletics, will now be consigned to the history books.  The Sixth Stage's 58:11 record set by Komazawa University's Kenta Chiba (now Team Fujitsu) in 2011 will also share the same fate, along with Toyo's Day One and Day Two records and its epoch-making 10:51:36 record for the complete 217.9 km Hakone course.

The 170 m Kanrei Domon tunnel, a popular part of the Hakone broadcast, has aged in the more than 80 years since its construction in 1931.  Only 5.8 m wide, the tunnel was a source of congestion, leading to the construction of the 7.25 m-wide bypass to improve the flow of traffic and safety.  The nation's top university runners will now travel via the bypass on their way to the Day One finish line at Lake Ashi and the handoff to the Seventh Stage in Odawara.

Because a pedestrian path through Kanrei Domon remains, the KGRR looked at the possibility of having runners follow the traditional course while TV broadcast trucks and other race vehicles took the bypass.  However, a KGRR spokesperson explained, "It's just a university event so there is no need to go that far, and vehicles and athletes separating and then rejoining each other on the roads would also create additional danger.  We shelved the proposal that running through Kanrei Domon was a must and went with the course change."

Opinions on the decision are divided.  With the 20 m addition to the course expected to create a difference of only 3~4 seconds many universities' head coaches called for the old records to remain as the official records, but in the end the principles of "precision in time and distance" inherent to track and field won out.  Toshiyuki Sakai (38), head coach of Toyo University which will lose its Fifth Stage, Day One, Day Two and overall course records, commented, "The complete out-and-back course is 217.9 km, so if the course changes due to road construction it's inevitable that the records are going to be erased.  However, our drive to break our 2012 overall course record and Kashiwabara's Fifth Stage record still remains and will not disappear along with them." 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Aiming for Top 10 at World Championships, Matsumoto Wins Second-Straight Fuji Mountain Race Title

translated by Brett Larner

3980 people ran the July 25 Fuji Mountain Race's 67th edition in its Fifth Stage and Summit divisions. The men's Summit division winner was defending champion Dai Matsumoto (30, Salomon), who took his second-straight title in 2:47:45. Ruth Charlotte Croft (25, New Zealand) won the women's Summit division in 3:11:44.  Sho Matsumoto (28, Nikkei Business) was the men's Fifth Stage winner, with Yumiko Oishi (43) joining him on the podium in the women's race.

In his sixth time running the Fuji Mountain Race Dai Matsumoto was delighted to keep his place on top.  "People were gunning for me this year," he said of the pressure that pushed him to beat his own winning time from last year of 2:49:40.  A native of Gunma prefecture, his experience with mountain running dates back to his time at Maebashi H.S. and Gunma University where he competed in the event at the National Sports Festival.  He currently trains at Mt. Asama and competes as a professional mountain runner in "sky running" races.  His next major goal, he said with a smile, is, "to finish in the top ten at the sky race world championships two years from now."

The New Zealand-born Croft beat the runner-up in the women's Summit division by a commanding margin of more than 17 minutes.  "I wasn't very satisfied with last year's result [9th in 3:52:05]," she said of her motivation to give Mt. Fuji another go.  Based in Nepal for her training, Croft came back to the Fuji Mountain Race after running the Everest Ultra Marathon, where she finished 2nd in the foreign athlete division.  Her strategy of picking up the pace after reaching the Fifth Stage paid off well as she ran away from her competitors to snag the win.  "I'm really happy that I ran better than last year," she said with satisfaction.

Kawauchi Wins Fourth-Straight Kushiro Shitsugen 30 km

translated and edited by Brett Larner

For the fourth-straight year, 2014 Asian Games men's marathon team member Yuki Kawauchi (27, Saitama Pref. Gov't) won the Kushiro Shitsugen 30 km road race Sunday in Kushiro, Hokkaido, beating the next athlete by over four minutes in 1:33:49.  Having struggled in the heat in the past. Kawauchi was pleased with race day temperatures under 20 degrees.  "I love it when it's cool," he said.  "It's hard to run 30 km and focus on quality or quantity back home in Saitama when it's 37 degrees there."  He also spoke against corporate teams' overseas high altitude training camps, saying, "I want to show that you can be successful in the marathon using a training regimen of short domestic training camps and racing here and abroad as an invited athlete."

World Junior Championships Day Six - Japanese Results

by Brett Larner

The men's 4x400 m relay team added one more to what looks like Japan's most successful medal haul on the final day of the 2014 World Junior Championships.  With the U.S.A. inevitably ahead for the win in 3:03.31, the Japanese team featuring 400 m silver medalist Nobuya Kato ran an Asian junior record 3:04.11 to again beat Jamaica for silver.

Japanese athletes made the top ten in three other events as the Championships wrapped up.  In the men's triple jump Ryoma Yamamoto cleared 15.89 m for 7th and Yugo Takahashi 15.76 m for 9th.  In the men's javelin throw Shu Mori's 69.73 m was good for 8th, Takuto Kominami joining him with a throw of 67.07 m.  In the men's 3000 mSC Kazuya Shiojiri ran a large PB of 8:45.66 for 9th after finishing only 10th in his qualifying heat.

At the Championships' end, the Japanese medal tally was:
  • Daisuke Matsunaga: gold, men's 10000 m race walk
  • Nobuya Kato: silver, men's 400 m
  • silver, men's 4x400 m
  • silver, men's 4x100 m
  • Yoshihide Kiryu: bronze, men's 100 m
  • Shotaro Shiroyama: bronze, men's long jump

Shiroyama's medal was the most unexpected, but despite a relatively weak showing by the women's contingent altogether it was an excellent team showing made even more so by 4th-place finishes just outside the medals by Nozomi Musembi Takamatsu in the women's 3000 m, Yuike Koike in the men's 200 m and Yugo Yamashita in the men's 10000 m race walk, by multiple events seeing more than one Japanese athlete make the final, and by confident running in the men's 10000 m and women's 5000 m.  Tokyo 2020 is still a long way away, but for the members of this year's team the 2014 World Junior Championships results were a big dose of encouragement, giving them the hope that when the biggest stage there is comes to their home soil at their peak, they too have a chance of being among the best.

IAAF World Junior Championships Day Six
Eugene, U.S.A., 7/27/14
click here for complete results

Men's 4x400 m Relay Final
1. U.S.A. - 3:03.31
2. Japan - 3:04.11 - AJR
3. Jamaica - 3:04.47
4. Great Britain - 3:06.42
5. Australia - 3:06.80
6. Bahamas - 3:08.08
DQ - Botswana
DQ - South Africa

Men's 3000 mSC Final
1. Barnabas Kipyego (Kenya) - 8:25.57
2. Titus Kipruto Kibiego (Kenya) - 8:26.15
3. Evans Rutto Chematot (Bahrain) - 8:32.61
4. Soufiane Elbakkali (Morocco) - 8:34.98
5. Hailemariyam Amare (Ethiopia) - 8:42.00
9. Kazuya Shiojiri (Japan) - 8:45.66

Men's Triple Jump Final
1. Lazaro Martinez (Cuba) - 17.13 m +0.7 - MR
2. Max Hess (Germany) - 16.55 m +1.4
3. Mateus de Sa (Brazil) - 16.47 m +1.5 - NJR
4. Andy Diaz (Cuba) - 16.43 m +2.1
5. Levon Aghasyan (Armenia) - 16.28 m +2.4
7. Ryoma Yamamoto (Japan) - 15.89 m +0.9
9. Yugo Takahashi (Japan) - 15.76 m +0.3

Men's Javelin Throw Final
1. Gatis Cakss (Latvia) - 74.04 m
2. Matija Muhar (Slovenia) - 72.97 m
3. Andrian Mardare (Moldova) - 72.81 m
4. Jonas Bonewit (Germany) - 71.62 m
5. Shakeil Waithe (Trinidad and Tobago) - 70.78 m
8. Shu Mori (Japan) - 69.73 m
10. Takuto Kominami (Japan) - 67.07 m

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

World Junior Championships Day Five - Japanese Results

by Brett Larner

Men's 100 m bronze medalist Yoshihide Kiryu and teammate Takuya Kawakami joined 200 m 4th and 6th-placers Yuki Koike and Masaharu Mori to outrun Jamaica for silver in the men's 4x100 m relay final at the World Junior Championships.  With the U.S.A. taking first in 38.70, Japan's 39.02 was just enough to beat Jamaica, which took bronze in 39.12.  Japan also beat Jamaica in the men's 4x400 m relay, where 400 m silver medalist Nobuya Kato and finalist Kaisei Yui powered the team to win Heat 2 in 3:05.40, Jamaica next in 3:06.25 and Bahamas picking up the final qualifying spot in a junior national record 3:07.03.  The women's 4x100 m team lacked the same punch, 6th among six finishing teams in the final in 45.40.

IAAF World Junior Championships Day Five
Eugene, U.S.A., 7/26/14
click here for complete results

Men's 4x400 m Relay Heat 2
1. Japan - 3:05.40 - Q
2. Jamaica - 3:06.25 - Q
3. Bahamas - 3:07.03 - NJR - q
4. Germany - 3:10.75
5. Canada - 3:11.93
DQ - Puerto Rico

Men's 4x100 m Relay Final
1. U.S.A. - 38.70
2. Japan - 39.02
3. Jamaica - 39.12
4. China - 39.51 - NJR
5. Nigeria - 39.66
6. Trinidad and Tobago - 39.92
7. Australia - 40.09
DNF - Thailand

Women's 4x100 m Final
1. U.S.A. - 43.46
2. Jamaica - 43.97
3. Germany - 44.65
4. Trinidad and Tobago - 44.75
5. Switzerland - 45.02
6. Japan - 45.40
DQ - Bahamas
DNF - Brazil

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Saturday, July 26, 2014

World Junior Championships Day Four - Japanese Results

by Brett Larner

The fourth day of competition at the 2014 World Junior Championships brought Japan its first gold medal of the week as Daisuke Matsunaga set a championships record 39.27.19 in the men's 10000 m race walk.  Silver and bronze medalists Diego Garcia (Spain) and Paulo Yurivilca (Peru) both set new national junior records to get on the podium, but Matsunaga was in another class as he beat Garcia by almost 30 seconds.  Yuga Yamashita (Japan) came up just short of the medals at 4th in 40:15.27.

Likewise just out of the medals, sprinter Yuki Koike ran 20.34 (+2.3) for 4th in the men's 200 m final, just 0.4 s from claiming bronze.  Teammate Masaharu Mori took 6th in 20.84, the first time a world-level championships has seen two Japanese athletes make a 200 m final.  Both ran the final less than 90 minutes after helping the Japanese men's 4x100 m team make the final by winning Heat 2 in a junior world-leading time of 39.23 just ahead of hosts U.S.A.  The women's 4x100 m team also advanced, escaping the carnage of a heat that saw only three of the six starting teams finish.

The men's 3000 mSC, men's triple jump and men's javelin throw all saw Japanese athletes advance to the finals.  One of the only blotches on the day was the men's 5000 m, where neither Kazuto Kawabata nor Shota Onizuka cracked the top ten.  An all-African lead group of seven was far out of the pair's range, Kawabata opting to run in a chase pack of seven and Onizuka struggling.  In the final kick Kawabata lacked the extra gear to outdo athletes from Canada, U.S.A. and Australia, finishing 4th among them for 11th overall.

IAAF World Junior Championships Day Four
Eugene, U.S.A., 7/25/14
click here for complete results

Men's 5000 m
1.Yomif Kejelcha (Ethiopia) - 13:25.19
2. Yasin Haji (Ethiopia) - 13.26.21
3. Moses Letoyie (Kenya) - 13:28.11
4. Joshua Kiprui Cheptegei (Uganda) - 13:32.84
5. Fredrick Kipkosgei Kiptoo (Kenya) - 13:35.39
11. Kazuto Kawabata (Japan) - 14:10.14
16. Shota Onizuka (Japan) - 14:34.92

Men's 200 m Final +2.3
1. Trentavis Friday (U.S.A.) - 20.04
2. Ejowvokoghene Divine Oduduru (Nigeria) - 20.25
3. Michael O'Hara (Jamaica) - 20.31
4. Yuki Koike (Japan) - 20.34
5. Zharnel Hughes (Anguilla) - 20.73
6. Masaharu Mori (Japan) - 20.84
7. Thomas Somers (Great Britain) - 20.92
8. Jonathan Farinha (Trinidad and Tobago) - 21.09

Men's 4x100 m Relay Heat 2
1. Japan - 39.23 - Q
2. U.S.A. - 39.43 - Q
3. Nigeria - 39.67 - q
4. Australia - 40.18 - q
5. Barbados - 41.39
DQ - Canada

Women's 4x100 m Relay Heat 3
1. Trinidad and Tobago - 44.68 - Q
2. Japan - 45.38 - Q
3. Australia - 45.54
DQ - Cyprus
DNF - Poland
DNF - Great Britain

Men's 3000 mSC Heat 1
1. Barnabas Kipyego (Kenya) - 8:31.72 - Q
2. Meresa Kahsay (Ethiopia) - 8:38.01 - Q
3. Evans Rutto Chematot (Bahrain) - 8:40.37 - Q
4. Yohanes Chiappinelli (Italy) - 8:46.82 - Q
5. Ali Messaoudi (Algeria) - 8:46.95 - Q
10. Kazuya Shiojiri (Japan) - 8:54.95 - q

Women's 400 mH Semi-Final 1
1. Zurian Hechavarria (Cuba) - 58.03 - Q
2. Genekee Leith (Jamaica) - 58.05 - Q
3. Joan Medjid (France) - 58.46 - q
4. Tia-Adana Belle (Barbados) - 58.59
5. Akiko Ito (Japan) - 1:00.11
6. Ashley Taylor (Canada) - 1:00.12
7. Maryia Roshchyn (Spain) - 1:00.37
8. Valentina Cavalleri (Italy) - 1:00.98

Men's 10000 m Race Walk
1. Daisuke Matsunaga (Japan) - 39:27.19 - MR
2. Diego Garcia (Spain) - 39:51.59 - NJR
3. Paulo Yurivilca (Peru) - 40:02.07 - NJR
4. Yuga Yamashita (Japan) - 40:15.27
5. Nikolay Markov (Russia) - 40:22.48

Men's High Jump Final
1. Mikhail Akimenko (Russia) - 2.24 m
2. Dzmitry Nabokau (Belarus) - 2.24 m
3. Sanghyeok Woo (South Korea) - 2.24 m
4. Christoff Bryan (Jamaica) - 2.24 m
5. Falk Wendrich (Germany) - 2.22 m
13. Yu Nakazawa (Japan) - 2.05 m

Men's Triple Jump Qualification Group A
1. Andy Diaz (Cuba) - 16.38 m +1.8 - Q
2. Max Hess (Germany) - 16.37 m +0.6 - Q
3. Lorenzo Dallavalle (Italy) - 15.99 m +2.4 - Q
4. Yugo Takahashi (Japan) - 15.92 m +2.0 - Q
5. Fabian Ime Edoki (Nigeria) - 15.75 m +2.2 - q

Men's Triple Jump Qualification Group B
1. Lazaro Martinez (Cuba) - 16.63 m +1.9 - Q
2. Ryoma Yamamoto (Japan) - 16.27 m +2.2 - Q
3. Yaoqing Fang (China) - 16.20 m +1.2 - Q
4. Levon Aghasyan (Armenia) - 16.16 m +0.9 - Q
5. Mateus de Sa (Brazil) - 16.15 m +1.6 - Q

Men's Javelin Throw Qualification Group A
1. Andrian Mardare (Moldova) - 74.46 m - Q
2. Matija Muhar (Slovenia) - 70.69 m - q
3. Jonas Bonewit (Germany) - 70.43 m - q
4. Sindri Gudmundsson (Iceland) - 69.99 m - q
5. Ioannis Kiriazis (Greece) - 69.19 m - q
7. Takuto Kominami (Japan) - 67.02 m - q

Men's Javelin Throw Qualification Group B
1. Shu Mori (Japan) - 69.67 m - q
2. Gatis Cakss (Latvia) - 68.38 m - q
3. Edis Matusevicius (Lithuania) - 67.64 m - q
4. Shui-Chang Hsu (Taiwan) - 67.19 m - q
5. Mateusz Kwasniewski (Poland) - 66.70 m - q

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Friday, July 25, 2014

World Junior Championships Day Three - Japanese Results

by Brett Larner

Day three of competition at the IAAF World Junior Championships was a big one for Japan, with two individual medals and a near miss on a third.  In the men's 400 m Nobuya Kato and Kaisei Yui made history with their runs, the first time two Japanese athletes had qualified for a world-level final, and Kato took it one step further when he ran 46.17 for silver behind winner Machel Cedenio (Trinidad and Tobago).  Yui, who ran a PB 46.68 to make the final, was 7th in 47.08 between two American athletes. 

In the men's long jump, Shotaro Shiroyama (Japan) jumped 7.83 m to unexpectedly win bronze, with teammate Kodai Sakuma 5th in 7.71 m.  Chinese athletes Jianan Wang and Qing Lin went 1-2, Wang winning with a jump of 8.08 m.  In the women's 3000 m Nozomi Musembi Takamatsu, the daughter of Japanese and Kenyan parents, ran a 6-second PB of 9:02.85 but came up just over 2 more seconds short of the podium as she was beaten by American Mary Cain in 8:58.48 and Kenyans Lilian Kasait Rengeruk and Valentina Chepkwemoi Mateiko in 9:00.53 and 9:00.79.

Following Kato and Yui's feat of jointly making their final, Yuki Koike and Masaharu Mori duplicated the feat in the men's 200 m.  Koike ran 21.10 to win his opening heat, with Mori almost equalling him in 21.16 in the second heat.  Both advanced to the semi-finals, where Koike ran 20.66 for 2nd and Mori 20.71 for 3rd to both make the final.  Their added momentum built on the excitement of what is proving to be just about the best-ever Japanese team performance at the world level.  The World Junior Championships continue into the weekend.

IAAF World Junior Championships Day Three
Eugene, U.S.A., 7/24/14
click here for complete results

Women's 3000 m
1. Mary Cain (U.S.A.) - 8:58.48
2. Lilian Kasait Rengeruk (Kenya) - 9:00.53
3. Valentina Chepkwemoi Mateiko (Kenya) - 9:00.79
4. Nozomi Musembi Takamatsu (Japan) - 9:02.85
5. Etagegn Woldu (Ethiopia) - 9:06.42
6. Emine Hatun Tuna (Turkey) - 9:06.85
7. Jessica Hull (Australia) - 9:08.85
8. Weini Kelati (Eritrea) - 9:12.32
9. Gabriela Stafford (Canada) - 9:14.97
10. Anna Stefani (Italy) - 9:23.12
11. Nao Yamamoto (Japan) - 9:24.41

Men's 400 m Final
1. Machel Cedenio (Trinidad and Tobago) - 45.13
2. Nobuya Kato (Japan) - 46.17
3. Abbas Abubakar Abbas (Bahrain) - 46.20
4. Alexander Lerionka Sampao (Kenya) - 46.55
5. Jack Crosby (Great Britain) - 46.63
6. Lamar Brutton-Grinnage (U.S.A.) - 46.75
7. Kaisei Yui (Japan) - 47.08
8. Tyler Brown (U.S.A.) - 47.30

Men's 200 m Semi-Final 1 +1.9
1. Thomas Somers (Great Britain) - 20.37 - Q
2. Zharnel Hughes (Anguilla) - 20.38 - Q
3. Masaharu Mori (Japan) - 20.71 - q
4. Jonathan Farinha (Trinidad and Tobago) - 20.74 - q
5. Jevaughn Minzie (Jamaica) - 20.77
6. Kendal Williams (U.S.A.) - 21.10
7. Baboloki Thebe (Botswana) - 21.28
8. Luka Janezic (Slovenia) - 21.41

Men's 200 m Semi-Final 3 +1.8
1. Trentavis Friday (U.S.A.) - 20.35 - Q
2. Yuki Koike (Japan) - 20.66 - Q
3. Steven Gardiner (Bahamas) - 20.89
4. Jacopo Spano (Italy) - 20.98
5. Morten Dalgaard Madsen (Denmark) - 21.06 - NJR
6. Miguel Francis (Antigua) - 21.29
7. Jakub Matus (Slovakia) - 21.33

Men's 200 m Heat 1 -0.8
1. Yuki Koike (Japan) - 21.10 - Q
2. Baboloki Thebe (Botswana) - 21.37 - Q
3. Ousman Touray (Norway) - 21.49
4. Marcus Lawler (Ireland) - 21.58
5. Mobolade Ajomale (Canada) - 21.60
6. Julius Rivera (Puerto Rico) - 21.80
7. Ricardo Pereira (Portugal) - 21.88
8. Muhammed Asad ur Rehman Khan (Pakistan) - 22.55

Men's 200 m Heat 2 -0.1
1. Zharnel Hughes (Anguilla) - 20.87 - Q
2. Masaharu Mori (Japan) - 21.16 - Q
3. Jakub Matus (Slovakia) - 21.36 - q
4. Chris Stone (Great Britain) - 21.47
5. Levi Roche Mandji (Italy) - 21.63
6. Shu-Wei Huang (Taiwan) - 21.73
7. Roberto Luevano (Mexico) - 21.83

Women's 200 m Semi-Final 1 +2.5
1. Irene Ekelund (Sweden) - 22.97 - Q
2. Shannon Hylton (Great Britain) - 23.36 - Q
3. Natalliah Whyte (Jamaica) - 23.44 - q
4. Johanelis Herrera Abreu (Italy) - 23.76
5. Sarah Atcho (Switzerland) - 23.82
6. Raquel Tjernagel (Canada) - 23.90
7. Tomoka Tsuchihashi (Japan) - 24.08
8. Keianna Albury (Bahamas) - 24.17

Women's 200 m Heat 1 -1.8
1. Irene Ekelund (Sweden) - 23.47 - Q
2. Shannon Hylton (Great Britain) - 23.78 - Q
3. Tomoka Tsuchihashi (Japan) - 24.49 - Q
4. Ioana Gheorghe (Romania) - 24.56
5. Nigina Sharipova (Uzbekistan) - 24.68
6. Valeria Baron (Argentina) - 25.15
7. Leandry-Celeste Digombou (Gabon) - 30.00
DNF - Ewa Swoboda (Poland)

Women's 200 m Heat 5 +2.1
1. Kaylin Whitney (U.S.A.) - 23.31 - Q
2. Veronica Shanti Pereira (Singapore) - 23.87 - Q
3. Sarah Atcho (Switzerland) - 23.94 - Q
4. Keianna Albury (Bahamas) - 23.96 - q
5. Leya Buchanan (Canada) - 23.96 - q
6. Anna Doi (Japan) - 24.23
7. Loungo Mathlaku (Botswana) - 24.39

Men's 400 mH Semi-Final 1
1. Tim Holmes (U.S.A.) - 50.80 - Q
2. Jonas Hanssen (Germany) - 50.93 - Q
3. Yusuke Sakanashi (Japan) - 51.68
4. Luca Cacopardo (Italy) - 51.90
5. Jucian Rafael Pereira (Brazil) - 51.98
6. Lukas Hodbod (Czech Republic) - 52.75
7. Jordan Sherwood (Canada) - 53.41
8. Okeen Williams (Jamaica) - 56.37

Women's 400 mH Heat 4
1. Tia-Adana Belle (Barbados) - 59.05 - Q
2. Genekee Leith (Jamaica) - 59.59 - Q
3. Ashley Taylor (Canada) - 59.82 - Q
4. Lenka Svobodova (Czech Republic) - 59.97 - Q
5. Akiko Ito (Japan) - 1:00.06 - q
6. Julija Praprotnik (Slovenia) - 1:00.95
7. Talia Thompson (Bahamas) - 1:02.33

Men's Long Jump Final
1. Jianan Wang (China) - 8.08 m +1.5
2. Qing Lin (China) - 7.94 m +1.6
3. Shotaro Shiroyama (Japan) - 7.83 m +2.4
4. Travonn White (U.S.A.) - 7.72 m +2.3
5. Kodai Sakuma (Japan) - 7.71 m +1.7

Men's Pole Vault Qualification Group A
1. Adam Hague (Great Britain) - 5.20 m - q
2. Oleg Zernikel (Germany) - 5.20 m - q
2. Jack Hicking (Australia) - 5.20 m - q
4. Axel Chapelle (France) - 5.20 m - q
5. Luigi Colella (Italy) - 5.20 m - q
11. Kota Suzuki (Japan) - 5.00 m

Women's Javelin Throw Final
1. Ekaterina Starygina (Russia) - 56.85 m
2. Sofi Flink (Sweden) - 56.70 m
3. Sara Kolak (Croatia) - 55.74 m
4. Marcelina Witek (Poland) - 54.74 m
5. Maria Andrejczyk (Poland) - 53.66 m
9. Shiori Toma (Japan) - 50.72 m

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Olympic Sprinter Yamagata Turns Down Corporate League Offers to Train in U.S. With Seiko Sponsorship

translated by Brett Larner

On July 23 it was announced that London Olympics sprinter Ryota Yamagata (22, Keio Univ.) will join Seiko Holdings Corporation and be based in California, U.S.A.  Yamagata's decision was a big one, made in anticipation of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.  Turning down offers from many top corporate league teams, he entered into a sponsorship agreement with Seiko Holdings, manufacturers of watches and other precision mechanical equipment.

Seiko does not currently have a track and field team, but Yamagata intends to move to California by himself following his graduation next spring and as part of his agreement with Seiko, at his own request he will be responsible for choosing his coach, trainer, training location and environment himself.  "Maybe I could have gotten the best support somewhere else, but I want to open up new ways of doing things," he commented.  Having developed his training menus through his own study ever since high school, Yamagata's decision to go it alone comes as no surprise.  He plans to brush up his language skills from now until next spring.  "I'm okay when it comes to everyday conversation," he said.  "I just have to study more."

Seiko first became the official Olympic timekeeper 50 years ago at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.  As an official partner of the IAAF it is also the official timekeeper of the World Track and Field Championships, giving it a strong connection with the world of athletics.  "Yamagata will be 28 at the time of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and that will be the culmination of his career," said Keio University head coach Shintaro Kawai.  "After his retirement he will have the option of working at Seiko if he wants, which was also part of the decision."

In the 2012 London Olympics heats Yamagata ran 10.07, the fastest-ever by a Japanese athlete at the Olympics.  Following that he went through a period of injury, but expectations are still high that he will bring Japan its first sub-10.  By taking his game to one of track and field's great powers, Yamagata is aiming to go even further.

World Junior Championships Day Two - Japanese Results

by Brett Larner
photo courtesy of David Monti, Race Results Weekly

Asian junior record holder Yoshihide Kiryu (Toyo Univ.) brought Japan its first medal of the 2014 IAAF World Junior Championships, taking bronze in 10.34 (-0.6) behind Americans Kendal Williams and Trayvon Bromell.  Kiryu gave the nation a scare by barely making it to the final when he finished 4th in his semi-final.  In both the semi and final he displayed problems with the second half of his race, but what he had on the day proved enough for him to get on the podium and join past World Juniors medalists like Shota Iizuka and Genki Dean in the Japanese books.

Further history was made when both Nobuya Kato and Kaisei Yui got through the semis to make the men's 400 m final, the first time two Japanese athletes have ever made a world-level final.  Both won their opening heats yesterday.  In semi-final 1, Yui ran a PB 46.68 to get into the final on time.  Kato, running semi-final 2, came from far back in the last 100 m to win again in 46.26, the slowest of the three semi-winning times but looking like he had plenty in reserve for the final.

In the distance race of the day, Maki Izumida and Fuyuka Kimura initially took the women's 5000 m out in a replay of the men's 10000 m, running together on a realistic pace but quickly opening a big lead on a more lackadaisically-paced pack.  After Kimura's initial move Izumida led through 1000 m on 15:40 pace, just slower than her best and a moderate PB pace for Kimura, but the African chasers were quicker than the men to get to work and by 2000 m eventual winner Alemitu Heroye (Ethiopia) had taken over.  A 2:52.88 third kilometer put both Japanese athletes out of contention, but although Izumida advanced late in the race she came up just short of retaking the rear end of the all-African pack.  Heroye took gold in 15:10.08 just ahead of teammate Alemitu Hawi, silver in 15:10.46.  Kenyan Agnes Jebet Tirop picked up bronze in 15:43.12.  Izumida was only 6th in 15:55.26, but with Tirop slower than both Izumida's PB and opening pace on a different day it might have been another bronze for Japan.  Kimura was close behind in 8th in 15:59.72.

In the day's other final, Rena Goto and Kana Minemura performed at about the same level as Izumida and Kimura, taking 6th and 7th in the women's 10000 m race walk.  With winner Anezka Drahotova (Czech Republic) setting a world record of 42:47.25 and many others setting national junior records, both Goto and Minemura set new personal bests, Goto clocking 45:54.07 and Minemura 46:22.88.

Other qualifiers included Yusuke Sakanashi, who won his 400 mH heat in 52.46 to make the semi-final, men's long jumpers Shotaro Shiroyama and Kodai Sakuma, and men's high jumper Yu Nakazawa.  The IAAF World Junior Championships continue through Sunday.

IAAF World Junior Championships Day Two
Eugene, U.S.A., 7/23/14
click here for complete results

Women's 5000 m
1. Alemitu Heroye (Ethiopia) - 15:10.08
2. Alemitu Hawi (Ethiopia) - 15:10.46
3. Agnes Jebet Tirop (Kenya) - 15:43.12
4. Stella Chesang (Uganda) - 15:53.85 - NJR
5. Loice Chemnung (Kenya) - 15:55.17
6. Maki Izumida (Japan) - 15:55.26
7. Courtney Powell (Australia) - 15:56.00
8. Fuyuka Kimura (Japan) - 15:59.72
9. Julian Forsey (Canada) - 16:02.55
10. Darya Maslova (Kyrgyzstan) - 16:07.58

Men's 400 m Semi-Final 1
1. Tyler Brown (U.S.A.) - 45.97 - Q
2. Alexander Lerionka Sampao (Kenya) - 46.21 - Q
3. Kaisei Yui (Japan) - 46.68 - q
4. Elliot Rutter (Great Britain) - 46.93
5. Oleksiy Pozdnyakov (Ukraine) - 47.43
6. Batuhan Altintas (Turkey) - 47.46
7. Joshua Robinson (Australia) - 47.72
8. Karabo Sibanda (Botswana) - 48.30

Men's 400 m Semi-Final 2
1. Nobuya Kato (Japan) - 46.26 - Q
2. Abbas Abubakar Abbas (Bahrain) - 46.28 - Q
3. Jack Crosby (Great Britain) - 46.35 - q
4. Luka Janezic (Slovenia) - 47.06
5. Warren Hazel (St. Kitts-Nevis) - 47.22
6. Janeko Cartwright (Bahamas) - 47.88
7. Martin Manley (Jamaica) - 48.38
DNF - Jamal Walton (Cayman Islands)

Men's 100 m Final -0.6
1. Kendal Williams (U.S.A.) - 10.21
2. Trayvon Bromell (U.S.A.) - 10.28
3. Yoshihide Kiryu (Japan) - 10.34
4. Levi Cadogan (Barbados) - 10.39
5. Cejhae Greene (Antigua and Barbuda) - 10.43
6. Ojie Edoburun (Great Britain) - 10.45
7. Andre Azonwanna (Canada) - 10.46
8. Jonathan Farinha (Trinidad and Tobago) - 10.47

Men's 100 m Semi-Final 1 +0.0
1. Trayvon Bromell (U.S.A.) - 10.29 - Q
2. Levi Cadogan (Barbados) - 10.31 - Q
3. Ojie Edoburun (Great Britain) - 10.36 - q
4. Yoshihide Kiryu (Japan) - 10.38 - q
5. Austin Hamilton (Sweden) - 10.64
6. Sydney Siame (Zambia) - 10.68
7. Michael O'Hara (Jamaica) - 10.69
8. Luca Antonio Cassano (Italy) - 10.70

Men's 100 m Semi-Final 2 -0.3
1. Cejhae Greene (Antigua and Barbuda) - 10.39 - Q
2. Jonathan Farinha (Trinidad and Tobago) - 10.41 - Q
3. Jevaughn Minzie (Jamaica) - 10.43
4. Takuya Kawakami (Japan) - 10.47
5. Youxue Mo (China) - 10.47
6. Morten Dalgaard Madsen (Denmark) - 10.48
7. Thando Roto (South Africa) - 10.61
8. Aykut Ay (Turkey) - 10.62

Women's 100 m Semi-Final 3 +0.9
1. Kayline Whitney (U.S.A.) - 11.44 - Q
2. Ewa Swoboda (Poland) - 11.51 - Q
3. Keianna Albury (Bahamas) - 11.76
4. Kedisha Dallas (Jamaica) - 11.77
5. Anna Doi (Japan) - 11.84
6. Floriane Gnafoua (France) - 11.88
7. Aaliyah Telesford (Trinidad and Tobago) - 11.94
8. Natasha Brown (Canada) - 12.02

Men's 400 mH Heat 4
1. Yusuke Sakanashi (Japan) - 52.46 - Q
2. Okeen Williams (Jamaica) - 52.88 - Q
3. Jordan Sherwood (Canada) - 53.04 - q
4. Javier Delgado (Spain) - 53.92
5. Sang-Hyeok Kwon (South Korea) - 55.13
6. Oneyker Aragon (Nicaragua) - 57.41 - NJR
DQ - Ned Justeen Azemia (Seychelles)
DQ - Sid-Ali Khedim (Algeria)

Men's 110 mH Semi-Final 1 -1.6
1. Wilhem Belocian (France) - 13.23 - Q
2. Nick Anderson (U.S.A.) - 13.68 - Q
3. Taio Kanai (Japan) - 13.85
4. Roger Iribarne (Cuba) - 13.87
5. Gabriel Constantino (Brazil) - 13.93
6. Ivor Metcalf (Australia) - 13.94
7. David Franco (Venezuela) - 13.98
8. Job Beintema (Netherlands) - 14.10

Men's 110 mH Semi-Final 3 -1.7
1. Tyler Mason (Jamaica) - 13.45 - Q
2. Welington Zaza (Liberia) - 13.53 - Q
3. Patrick Elger (Germany) - 13.84
4. Valdo Szucs (Hungary) - 13.93
5. Theophile Viltz (U.S.A.) - 14.02
6. Masahiro Kagimoto (Japan) - 14.04
7. Kirk Lewis (Bahamas) - 14.05
8. Ricardo Torres (Puerto Rico) - 14.34

Women's 10000 m Race Walk
1. Anezka Drahotova (Czech Republic) - 42:47.25 - WJR
2. Na Wang (China) - 44:02.64
3. Yuanyuan Ni (China) - 44:16.72
4. Laura Garcia-Caro (Spain) - 44:32.84 - NJR
5. Maria Perez (Spain) - 44:57.30
6. Rena Goto (Japan) - 45:54.07
7. Kana Minemura (Japan) - 46:22.88
8. Stefany Coronado (Bolivia) - 46:42.06 - NJR
9. Jessica Hancco (Peru) - 46:47.31 - NJR
10. Viktoryia Rashchupkina (Belarus) - 47:00.30
DQ - Eliska Drahotova (Czech Republic)

Men's Long Jump Qualification Group A
1. Jianan Wang (China) - 7.93 m - Q
2. Jose Luis Despaigne (Cuba) - 7.61 m - q
3. Shotaro Shiroyama (Japan) - 7.55 m - q
4. Yasser Triki (Algeria) - 7.35 m - q
5. Laquan Nairn (Bahamas) - 7.29 m

Men's Long Jump Qualification Group B
1. Qing Lin (China) - 7.62 m - q
2. Travonn White (U.S.A.) - 7.50 m - q
3. Kodai Sakuma (Japan) - 7.38 m - q
4. Thobias Nilsson-Montler (Sweden) - 7.37 m - q
5. Harold Barruecos (Italy) - 7.36 m - q

Men's High Jump Qualification Group A
1. Tobias Potye (Germany) - 2.14 m - q
1. Joel Baden (Australia) - 2.14 m - q
1. Mikhail Akimenko (Russia) - 2.14 m - q
4. Christoff Bryan (Jamaica) - 2.14 m - q
5. Andrei Skabeika (Belarus) - 2.14 m - q
6. Yu Nakazawa (Japan) - 2.14 m - q
7. Yeoryios Tessaromatis (Greece) - 2.10 m - q

Men's High Jump Qualification Group B
1. Sanghyeok Woo (South Korea) - 2.14 m - q
1. Falk Wendrich (Germany) - 2.14 m - q
1. Daniel Lysenko (Russia) - 2.14 m - q
4. Dzmitry Nakokau (Belarus) - 2.14 m - q
4. Chris Kandu (Great Britain) - 2.14 m - q
6. Clayton Brown (Jamaica) - 2.10 m - q
11. Daisuke Nakajima (Japan) - 2.00 m

text (c) 2014 Brett Larner, all rights reserved
photo (c) 2014 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

World Junior Championships Day One - Japanese Results

by Brett Larner

The men's 10000 m rounded out the day as the only final on the first day of competition at the 2014 IAAF World Junior Championships in Eugene, U.S.A.  After a slow first lap Keisuke Nakatani of 2013 National University Ekiden champion Komazawa University went to the front to get the race moving, tailed only by 2014 Hakone Ekiden winner Toyo University's Hazuma Hattori.  Ranked 6th and 7th in the field by PB, the two Japanese athletes, both stage winners at January's Hakone Ekiden, were initially ignored by the faster Africans, allowing them to open a lead that at one point maxed at around 100 m.  Despite the gap, the pair's pace was never unrealistic as Nakatani held close to 29:10 pace, roughly 20 second slower than his best.  His projected finishing time based on his splits through 6000 m show how steadily he ran:

1000 m: 29:18.70
2000 m: 29:15.55
3000 m: 29:13.57
4000 m: 29:09.53
5000 m: 29:10.54
6000 m: 29:11.73

The slight surge between 3 and 4000 m severed the connection between the two as Hattori began to drop back, and at roughly the same time a group of the top Africans detached from the relatively placid chase pack and set off in pursuit.  By 7000 m eventual winner Joshua Kiprui Cheptegei (Uganda), the only sub-28 athlete in the field, had run both down and taken the lead.  In a battle over the last kilometer Cheptegei dropped Kenyans Elvis Kipchoge Cheboi and Nicholas Mboroto Kosimbei for the win in 28:32.86, both Cheboi and Kosimbei clearing 28:40.  Nakatani crossed the line in 7th in 29:11.40, less than a second off his pace at halfway, with Hattori running a slight negative split for 8th in 29:12.74.  With only one runner seeded lower than them, Eritrean Afewerki Berhane who took 4th in a >1 minute PB of 28:45.83, finishing ahead of them it was a decent showing by both Japanese collegiates.

In heats and qualifying action:
  • Both Nobuya Kato and Kaisei Yui won their heats in the men's 400 m to advance to the semi-final, Kato recording the fastest time of the day in 46.23.
  • Yoshihide Kiryu, a teammate of Hattori's at Toyo University, won his 100 m heat in 10.40 (-0.5), with Takuya Kawakami also advancing in 10.46 (+1.4). 
  • An Olympian in high school, Anna Doi was the only Japanese woman to advance in the 100 m as she finished 2nd in her heat in 11.65 (+1.4).
  • Both Masahiro Kagimoto and Taio Kanai advanced in the men's 110 mH, each finishing 3rd in his heat.
  • Shiori Toma squeaked into the women's javelin final, finishing 12th among 12 qualifiers with a throw of 51.64 m.

The World Junior Championships continue tomorrow.

IAAF World Junior Championships Day One
Eugene, U.S.A., 7/22/14
click here for complete results

Men's 10000 m
1. Joshua Kiprui Cheptegei (Uganda) - 28:32.86
2. Elvis Kipchoge Cheboi (Kenya) - 28:35.20
3. Nicholas Mboroto Kosimbei (Kenya) - 28:38.68
4. Afewerki Berhane (Eritrea) - 28:45.83 - PB
5. Abdallah Kibet Mande (Uganda) - 28:53.77
6. Yihunilign Adane (Ethiopia) - 28:54.84
7. Keisuke Nakatani (Japan) - 29:11.40
8. Hazuma Hattori (Japan) - 29:12.74
9. Robleh Djama Aden (Djibouti) - 29:43.49 - NJR
10. Carlos Mayo (Spain) - 29:52.31 - PB

Women's 800 m Heat 2
1. Georgia Wassall (Australia) - 2:05.69 - Q
2. Dureti Edao (Ethiopia) - 2:06.15 - Q
3. Alina Ammann (Germany) - 2:06.91 - Q
4. Asli Arik (Turkey) - 2:07.26
5. Charlotte Mouchet (France) - 2:07.38
6. Maria Pia Fernandez (Uruguay) - 2:10.97
7. Ryoko Hirano (Japan) - 2:11.99

Men's 400 m Heat 2
1. Kaisei Yui (Japan) - 47.06 - Q
2. Karabo Sibanda (Botswana) - 47.96 - Q
3. Nathon Allen (Jamaica) - 48.06 - Q
4. Sonwabiso Skhosana (South Africa) - 48.16
5. Wei-Hsu Wang (Taiwan) - 48.61
6. Graeme Thompson (Canada) - 49.01
7. Hussain Riza (Moldova) - 52.42

Men's 400 m Heat 3
1. Nobuya Kato (Japan) - 46.23 - Q
2. Lamar Bruton-Grinnage (U.S.A.) - 46.74 - Q
3. Oleksiy Pozdnyakov (Ukraine) - 47.18 - Q
4. Joshua Cunningham (Canada) - 47.40 - q
5. Leungo Scotch (Botswana) - 47.81
6. Brandon Valentine-Parris (Saint Vincent & Grenadines) - 48.36 - NJR
7. Luatimu Samau (Samoa) - 56.71

Women's 100 m Heat 3 +0.4
1. Vitoria Cristina Rosa (Brazil) - 11.60 - Q
2. Tebogo Mamathu (South Africa) - 11.75 - Q
3. Aaliyah Telesford (Trinidad and Tobago) - 11.81 - Q
4. Evelyn Rivera (Colombia) - 12.17
5. Sayaka Adachi (Japan) - 12.24
6. Alexandra Toth (Austria) - 12.26
7. Adrine Monagi (Papua New Guinea) - 12.79
DQ - Angela Tenorio (Ecuador)

Women's 100 m Heat 7 +1.4
1. Kaylin Whitney (U.S.A.) - 11.48 - Q
2. Anna Doi (Japan) - 11.65 - Q
3. Eva Berger (France) - 11.75 - Q
4. Lisa Marie Mwayie (Germany) - 11.95
5. Aila Del Ponte (Switzerland) - 11.99
6. Larissa Chambers (Australia) - 12.05
7. Quashira McIntosh (Virgin Islands) - 12.44

Men's 100 m Heat 2 +1.4
1. Jevaughn Minzie (Jamaica) - 10.32 - Q
2. Josh Clarke (Australia) - 10.36 - Q
3. Takuya Kawakami (Japan) - 10.46 - Q
4. Austin Hamilton (Sweden) - 10.56 - q
5. Amanuel Abebe (Ethiopia) - 10.99
6. Faresa Kapisi (American Samoa) - 11.66

Men's 100 m Heat 7 -0.5
1. Yoshihide Kiryu (Japan) - 10.40 - Q
2. Yaniel Carrero (Cuba) - 10.58 - Q
3. Aykut Ay (Turkey) - 10.71 - Q
4. Samuli Samuelsson (Finland) - 10.78
5. Sebastian Schurman (Germany) - 10.85
6. Quentin Leguay (Monaco) - 12.40
DNF - Cajuniba Okirua (Cook Islands)

Men's 110 mH Heat 3 -0.2
1. Nick Anderson (U.S.A.) - 13.61 - Q
2. Valdo Szucs (Hungary) - 13.66 - Q
3. Masahiro Kagimoto (Japan) - 13.68 - Q
4. Ricardo Torres (Puerto Rico) - 13.71 - q - NJR
5. Joshuan Berrios (Colombia) - 13.99
6. Arasy Akbar Witarsa (Indonesia) - 14.21
7. Yakubu Ibrahim (Ghana) - 14.61 - NJR
8. Gaston Sayago (Argentina) - 16.92

Men's 110 mH Heat 7 +0.6
1. Marvin Williams (Jamaica) - 13.71 - Q
2. Francisco Lopez (Spain) - 13.75 - Q
3. Taio Kanai (Japan) - 13.81 - Q
4. Chih-Hao Lin (Taiwan) - 14.00
5. Dawid Zebrowski (Poland) - 14.04
6. Francisco Lopez (Chile) - 14.36
7. Kin-Lok Fung (Hong Kong) - 14.43
8. Dongmin Shin (Korea) - 14.73 - NJR

Women's Long Jump Qualification Group B
1. Nadia Akpana Assa (Norway) - 6.39 m - Q - NJR
2. Akela Jones (Barbados) - 6.32 m - Q
3. Rogui Sow (France) - 6.19 m - q
4. Genesis Romero (Venezuela) - 6.17 m - q
5. Maryse Luzolo (Germany) - 6.15 m - q
6. Quanesha Burks (U.S.A.) - 6.12 m - q
11. Yumi Uchinokura (Japan) - 5.77 m

Women's Javelin Throw Qualification Group A
1. Maria Andrejczyk (Poland) - 56.23 m - Q
2. Sofi Flinck (Sweden) - 56.04 m - Q
3. Tereza Vytlacilova (Czech Republic) - 53.06 m - Q
4. Marie-Therese Obst (Norway) - 52.59 m - q
5. Kiho Kuze (Japan) - 51.55 m

Women's Javelin Throw Qualification Group B
1. Marcelina Witek (Poland) - 55.78 m - Q
2. Ekaterina Starygina (Russia) - 54.80 m - Q
3. Christine Winkler (Germany) - 53.06 m - Q
4. Simona Dobilaite (Lithuania) - 52.43 m - q
5. Sara Kolak (Croatia) - 51.88 m - q
6. Arantza Moreno (Spain) - 51.67 m - q
7. Edivania Araujo (Brazil) - 51.64 m - q
8. Shiori Toma (Japan) - 51.64 m - q

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Monday, July 21, 2014

Otona no Taimu Toraiaru - Time Trials for Grown-Ups

by Brett Larner

Japan is unique in having one of the most highly-developed elite running systems in the world, an enormous and growing population of amateur runners, and mass popularity among the general public in elite racing as a spectator sport.  But like anywhere else there is separation between those elite and amateur worlds, the university and corporate teams, out of sight except for their televised races and rarely interacting with the public.

A university-aged pacer in a blue and white Otona no Time Trial singlet leads amateur runners in an early heat.

One feature of the elite circuit is the time trial meet.  Time trial meets are day- or weekend-long series of long-distance track races finely graded by target time.  The largest of the them, Yokohama's Nittai University Time Trials series, had 45 heats of 5000 m in 14 hours in one edition last year, each heat with 30-40 runners ranging from serious amateurs in the early heats to Olympians and national champions in the latest, fastest heats.  The atmosphere at the most elite meets like the Golden Games in Nobeoka and Hokuren Distance Challenge is electric, different from a regular distance carnival or track meet with supporters and fans crowding the track from the fifth lane outward, music playing over loudspeakers and an MC calling out encouragement to the runners and working the crowds.

Another pacer calls out encouragement with one lap to go as Ekiden News staff work the finish area.

For three years the members of the Ekiden News website have been working tirelessly to bring time trial meets further into the public eye.  Dedicated fans trying to spread their love of all things Hakone, the Tokyo-based EN crew goes to every Nittai and other major time trials meets in the Tokyo area and travel the country going to GGN, and HDC and all the other big events, filming and documenting every heat with equal enthusiasm and respect, posting all the videos on Youtube and promoting them on Twitter and Facebook.  Last year they made the logical leap and started their own time trial meet, the Otona no Time Trial ("Time Trials for Grown-Ups") at Oda Field in the heart of Tokyo's Shibuya fashion hub.  On July 20 the meet was held for the second time.

Yoshiki Kawauchi paces one runner while meet organizer Takeshi Nishimoto runs alongside giving encouragement.

The Otona no Time Trial meet is the brainchild of Ekiden News founder Takeshi Nishimoto, an effort to bring the excitement of Golden Games in Nobeoka and this elite racing experience to the average runner.  All the ingredients were there: fourteen heats of 5000 m graded by time plus 1500 m heats and a kids' 1000 m, professional timing and photography, lap counting, a sound system pumping tunes, spectators encouraged to stand on the track in lane five and cheer.

Naoko Takahashi, in pink, paces a group while giving them advice over the sound system.

And there were unique touches: individualized bibs with each entrant's first name from the 30 min+ runners in heat A to those trying to break 15 in heat N, pacing and personal encouragement in each heat from the likes of Olympic marathon gold medalist and former world record holder Naoko Takahashi, Yuki Kawauchi's middle brother Yoshiki Kawauchi, and university and corporate-league athletes brought in for the job wearing custom-made Otono no Time Trial singlets with "Follow Me" on the back, and small-scale sponsorship from New Balance, Asics, Descente, Zoff sunglasses and Red Bull to make it all possible.

Nishimoto interviewing on the run.

While the rest of the Ekiden News crew worked as photographers and in the finish area, throughout it all Nishimoto worked as MC, walking the track and infield as he called out encouragement to each runner by name and urging them on to beat time goals, told the crowd who was on PB pace and jumped in with his mic to conduct micro-interviews on the run with pacers and racers, all with the same energy and enthusiasm as if it were a "real" race.  The energy rubbed off, people from the early heats staying to watch the faster ones and the numbers on and around the track growing as curious onlookers from a nearby Brazil festival came in to watch.  Despite a sudden thunderstorm that delayed the final four heats the crowd was thick by the time of the final, fastest heat, and even though it was only won in 15:08 people were as excited and raucous as if they were watching a National Championships, energy they shared as much with the last-place finisher in the last heat as with its winner.

A pacer in an early heat guides one runner in to the finish as a race staff member directs those finishing and those with one lap to go to separate chutes.

Having experienced for themselves the excitement of what it's like to be an elite, there's no doubt that even the 6- and 7-minute kilometer hobby runners came away from the Otona no Time Trial with both increased interest in elite racing and renewed dedication to their own running.  In a place where almost all races are organized by government bodies and other cautious, slow-moving and slow-thinking committees, this was something truly innovative, an event put on with complete professionalism by fans outside the system to share the magic of the thing they love with others, a race by the people for the people but, critically, with an atmosphere of achievement regardless of ability one step beyond a simple "everyone's a winner."  Within that nuance lies the core of what Nishimoto and Ekiden News sought to communicate about elite running to participants, and in that respect the Otona no Time Trial was indeed a win for everyone.

text and photos (c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Imai Wins Second-Straight Shibetsu Half

by Brett Larner

Continuing a solid 2014 that saw him break 2:10 for the first time at February's Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon, course record holder Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu) returned to successfully defend his title at Sunday's Shibetsu Half Marathon.  Running in sunny and humid conditions with temperatures around 30 degrees, Imai had no trouble dropping main competition Yusuke Ogura (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) and 5000 m and 30 km national record holder Takayuki Matsumiya (Team Konica Minolta) late in the race to take the win in 1:04:07, 43 seconds off his record last year but still the 4th-fastest winning time in Shibetsu's 28-year history.  Ogura, only 14th in 1:05:56 last year, held off Matsumiya for 2nd in 1:04:21, the veteran Matsumiya ten seconds back.  Japan-based since April, 2014 Incheon Asian Games marathon medal contender Ser-Od Bat-Ochir (Mongolia/Team NTN) was 6th in 1:04:57.

The women's field was split between the half marathon and 10 km divisions.  A regular in the 10 km in Shibetsu, Misato Horie (Team Noritz) moved up to the event's half this year with a win in 1:14:37.  13 seconds back, Yui Okada (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) outkicked Horie's teammate Kikuyo Tsuzaki by 1 second for 2nd in 1:14:50.  Team Daihatsu runners dominated the 10 km with three of the top five places, Mizuki Matsuda getting the win in 33:50.

More important than the relatively slow times was the focus on running in heat and humidity.  As part of its mission, the new marathon National Team program, of which Imai is part, records detailed physiological data on athletes' performances in heat in an attempt to identify those most likely to perform well in the conditions they will face in summer international championships marathons leading up to the big one, Tokyo 2020.   Summertime Tokyo can have extreme humidity and temps in the 30s, and if last year's Moscow World Championships, where the mid-afternoon start times brought the worst conditions for the competitors, prime-time broadcasts in Japan for major IAAF sponsor TBS, a medal in the women's marathon and nearly another in the men's, are any indication there will be no mercy for the rest of the world weather-wise at the Tokyo Olympics.  Don't act surprised if it's another sauna.  Until then Japan's best will be trained and studied to maximize every advantage to bring a medal on home soil.  Everyone else has six years to figure out how to cope.

28th Shibetsu Half Marathon and 10 km
Shibetsu, Hokkaido, 7/20/14

Men's Half Marathon
1. Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 1:04:07
2. Yusuke Ogura (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 1:04:21
3. Takayuki Matsumiya (Team Konica Minolta) - 1:04:31
4. Takuji Morimoto (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 1:04:55
5. Yuma Morii (Team SGH Group Sagawa) - 1:04:56
6. Ser-Od Bat-Ochir (Mongolia/Team NTN) - 1:04:57
7. Ryosuke Fukuyama (Team Honda) - 1:05:22
8. Kohei Ogino (Team Fujitsu) - 1:05:26
9. Yu Chiba (Team Honda) - 1:05:37
10. Shoya Kurokawa (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:05:41

Women's Half Marathon
1. Misato Horie (Team Noritz) - 1:14:37
2. Yui Okada (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 1:14:50
3. Kikuyo Tsuzaki (Team Noritz) - 1:14:51
4. Ai Migita (Team Wacoal) - 1:14:58
5. Yuka Hakoyama (Team Wacoal) - 1:16:26

Women's 10 km
1. Mizuki Matsuda (Team Daihatsu) - 33:50
2. Ayumi Sakaida (Team Daihatsu) - 34:04
3. Kotomi Takayama (Team Sysmex) - 34:14
4. Ayaka Inoue (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 34:28
5. Sayaka Murakami (Team Daihatsu) - 34:31

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Friday, July 18, 2014

Yoshihide Kiryu Named Captain of Japanese Men's World Juniors Team

translated and edited by Brett Larner

A 9-second time would give Japan a jolt of momentum.  100 m sprinter Yoshihide Kiryu (18, Toyo Univ.) left Narita Airport for the World Junior Track and Field Championships starting July 22nd in Eugene, Oregon, U.S.A.  Based on his experience at last summer's World Track and Field Championships and other accomplishments, Kiryu was named captain of the Japanese men's team at World Juniors.  His first time playing such a big role, Kiryu was hopeful for the team's chances, saying, "I've never been captain before so I don't know how reliable I'll be, but I want everyone to have a great time racing." 

Kiryu has fully recovered from the pain in his right foot that was bothering him before last month's National Track and Field Championships and has set his sights on both Japan's first sub-10 clocking and the 100 m gold medal.  With the men's 100 m getting underway on the first day of competition Kiryu will be butting heads with 9.97 American Travyon Bromell right from go.  "I just want to enjoy competing," he said.  "I'd love to drop the time but either way I'm aiming for the top.  I want to bring the results and get into a good flow I can ride all the way."  Along with the 100 m, Kiryu is scheduled to run second on the 4x100 m relay team.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

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

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

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Kaori and Shiori Morita, Twin Sisters Dreaming of 2020

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.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Kawauchi's Asian Games Sendoff Party Cancelled After Death of Alma Mater Staff Member

translated by Brett Larner

Saitama's Kasukabe Higashi High School, alma mater of 2014 Incheon Asian Games marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (27, Saitama Pref. Gov't), planned to hold an Asian Games sendoff party for its most famous alumnus on July 14, but following the death of a school staff member on July 13 the party has been cancelled.  According to a school spokesperson, the decision to cancel the event was made in consideration of students' feelings.  The school administration has not yet decided whether the sendoff party will be rescheduled.

Kawauchi was a notable member of Kasukabe Higashi High School's track team before his graduation in 2005.  He currently works in Saitama as an administrative staff member at Kuki Part-Time High School, a special school for students seeking to finish their degrees while working.  Kawauchi is training for the Asian Games while working full-time at the school.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Weekend Track Roundup

by Brett Larner

Following up last week's Cork City Sports meet in Ireland that saw a sizeable group of mostly collegiate Japanese women in the 3000 m, Japanese men got started on their annual European track junket at meets in the Netherlands and Belgium.  2014 Waseda University graduate Suguru Osako (Team Nissin Shokuhin) was due to run the two mile at the Diamond League Glasgow meet, but with the cancellation of that distance he instead headed to the Netherlands' Runnersworld Track Meeting, where he ran 8:02.11 for 2nd in the 3000 m as a tuneup for next weekend's KBC Nacht meet in Belgium, where he and rival Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) will run 5000 m.

Also tuning up for the KBC Nacht was a large group of young corporate league runners and 2014 Asian Games track team member Kota Murayama (Josai Univ.) in the 1500 m at Belgium's Guldensporenmeeting.  Led by former Japanese university 10000 m record holder Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Team Asahi Kasei), 2nd overall in 3:42.21, altogether six Japanese men broke 3:44, all in PBs, adding up to one of the best Japanese 1500 m races in recent memory.  The Japanese man with the fastest PB heading into the race, Ikuto Yufu (Team Fujitsu), made a good progress on his return from the injury that has bothered him since January's Hakone Ekiden, running 3:46.34 for 9th just ahead of on-the-men American star Chris Solinsky.  Women's two-time 1500 m national champion Ayako Jinnouchi (Team Kyudenko) was 9th in the women's 1500 m in 4:15.19, well off her best.

Back home in Japan, Yoroizaka's younger former teammates at Meiji University did well in their annual dual against Hosei University, sweeping the top four spots in the 1500 m.  Senior Kei Fumimoto won in a meet record and PB 3:47.01 well ahead of junior Shin Kimura, who likewise set a PB of 3:49.00.

63rd Cork City Sports
Cork, Ireland, 7/8/14
click here for complete results

Women's 3000 m
1. Marielle Hall (U.S.A.) - 8:54.48
2. Melissa Duncan (Australia) - 8:58.14
3. Fionnuala Britton (Ireland) - 9:01.01
4. Lauren Penney (U.S.A.) - 9:01.33
5. Helen Clitheroe (England) - 9:03.95
6. Yuika Mori (Team Yamada Denki) - 9:05.57
7. Maria McCambridge (Ireland) - 9:05.66
8. Natsuki Omori (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 9:09.54
9. Dominika Nowakowska (Poland) - 9:10.79
10. Sara Treacy (Ireland) - 9:12.35
13. Mai Shoji (Chukyo Univ.) - 9:18.96
16. Sakurako Fukuuchi (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 9:24.55
17. Shiho Takechi (Team Yamada Denki) - 9:34.45
18. Mai Tsuda (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 9:41.26

Runnersworld Track Meeting
Utrecht, Netherlands, 7/11/14
click here for complete results

Men's 3000 m
1. Jesper van der Wielen (Netherlands) - 7:58.56
2. Suguru Osako (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 8:02.11
3. Mohamed Ali Mohamed (Netherlands) - 8:19.85
4. Jorit van Malsen (Netherlands) - 8:34.17
5. Wouter Dilling (Netherlands) - 8:43.69

17th Guldensporenmeeting
Kortrijk, Belgium, 7/12/14
click here for complete results

Men's 1500 m Heat 1
1. Mark Nouws (Netherlands) -3:42.01
2. Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Team Asahi Kasei) - 3:42.21
3. Kazuya Deguchi (Team Asahi Kasei) - 3:42.98
4. Daiki Hirose (Team Osaka Gas) - 3:43.23
5. Masato Kikuchi (Team Konica Minolta) - 3:43.52
6. Roy Van Eekelen (Netherlands) - 3:43.69
7. Kota Murayama (Josai Univ.) - 3:43.85
8. Hans Kristian Floystad (Norway) - 3:44.54
9. Ikuto Yufu (Team Fujitsu) - 3:46.34
10. Chris Solinsky (U.S.A.) - 3:46.55
12. Ryo Kiname (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) - 3:47.33
13. Hideyuki Tanaka (Team Toyota) - 3:47.84
16. Aritaka Kajiwara (Team Press Kogyo) - 3:49.00
17. Yuta Shitara (Team Honda) - 3:49.28
19. Keita Shitara (Team Konica Minolta) - 3:54.69

Men's 1500 m Heat 2
1. Carsten Schlangen (Germany) - 3:38.85
2. Joe Stilin (U.S.A.) - 3:39.47
3. Conselius Kipruto (Kenya) - 3:40.07
4. Andy Bayer (U.S.A.) - 3:40.10
5. Peter Callahan (U.S.A.) - 340.58
12. Toshihiro Kenmotsu (Team NTT Nishi Nihon) - 3:43.23

Women's 1500 m
1. Gabe Grunewald (U.S.A.) - 4:07.70
2. Kokebe Tesfaye (Ethiopia) - 4:08.61
3. Basu Sado (Ethiopia) - 4:08.85
4. Kim Conley (U.S.A.) - 4:09.48
5. Katie Wright (New Zealand) - 4:13.47
9. Ayako Jinnouchi (Team Kyudenko) - 4:15.19

64th Meiji University - Hosei University Dual Meet
Tokyo, 7/13/14
complete results coming shortly

Men's 1500 m
1. Kei Fumimoto (Meiji Univ.) - 3:47.01 - MR
2. Shin Kimura (Meiji Univ.) - 3:49.00
3. Kentaro Egashira (Meiji Univ.) - 3:52.73
4. Takumi Hosaka (Meiji Univ.) - 3:52.95

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Thursday, July 10, 2014

"My Goal is to Make the National Team in the Marathon" - Kansai Region University Distance Star Kentaro Hirai

translated by Brett Larner

The biggest attraction in Kansai university athletics long distance these days is without a doubt Kyoto University junior Kentaro Hirai.  A graduate of Hotoku Gakuen H.S., Hirai won this spring's Kansai University Track and Field Championships 10000 m and finished 2nd in both the 5000 m and half marathon.  Running as Kyoto's best runner at last month's National University Ekiden Championships Kansai Region Qualifier, he finished 1st overall to lead Kyoto University to qualify for Nationals for the first time in 41 years, showing the strong and inspiring impact he is having on his teammates.  Hirai envisions a place for himself on a Japanese national team in the marathon.  We talked to this 21-year-old about his current situation and about his vision for the future.

You had a very strong first half of this season.

The Kansai Regionals meet lists people who score 20 or more points as individuals.  I scored 27.  At the National University Ekiden Qualifier we got a place and I personally opened a gap of 30 or 40 seconds to achieve my goal of the individual win.  At the National University Individual Track and Field Championships I met my target of a podium finish.  Everything I envisioned last winter came true.

You always run out front in Kansai Region races.

That's a natural result of having the mindset of aiming to win at the national level [against the power of Kanto Region university athletes].  People have this self-imposed restraint that "the level in Kansai is low" that makes their times slower and I want to change that.  We have to raise our game in Kansai.  I think the guys at [top Kansai universities] Ritsumeikan and Kyoto Sangyo are starting to think, "We're losing out to Kyoto University" and to respond to that.  If we can keep the wind blowing that way then we'll be able to get rid of this idea that Kansai is Kansai and Kanto is Kanto.

It's tough to frontrun, but doing that makes it feel easier and takes off the pressure when you follow people at the national level.  But if you follow someone, especially in Kansai these days, the pace slows down.  It becomes the kind of race where you just pick up [the pace] at the end.  It's more comfortable, so maybe it's inevitable.

What did you learn at Hotoku Gakuin H.S.?
My mother is the head of our family, and what I learned from Mr. [Seiji] Hirayama [at Hotoku] fit well with the way my mother brought me up and influenced how I live my life.  What springs to mind immediately is the importance of putting your mind into the task in front of you, how to conduct yourself so that the situation at hand can lead you to achieve your goals, whether at home or at school.

People tell me that I'm doing a good job of doubling as a scholar-athlete, but I've come not to think of it that way at all.  Ultimately, when it's time to study I study, and when it's time to run I run, that's it.  Another thing is that life mostly does not go the way you thought it was going to.  In high school I had a lot of injuries and failures, but Mr. Hirayama's words gave me encouragement.  The fact that things have being going well this spring is irregular whichever way you look at it, and I want to be as humble about it as I can.

With no head coach at Kyoto University, what does your practice schedule look like?

I'm the type of guy who will do 70 minutes when he's supposed to jog 60.  Because of that I was always injured [in high school], so now I try not to be too stubborn and set in my ways.  I'm just doing this by myself, so in a good way I can't overdo it, and part of me is just lazy and good at avoiding things I have to do.  I don't care too much about distance or pace but put more importance on things like how much perceived effort it took.  I constantly make little changes to my training schedule and get advice from coaches at other universities.  The people around me give me strength too.

What are your goals for the future?

My immediate goals are to win the First Stage at the National University Ekiden two years in a row and to be the top Japanese man in next year's National University Track and Field Championships 10000 m.  After I graduate my goal is to make the Japanese national team in the marathon.  I'm pretty sure I can be competitive in summertime championship races.  The winning times are usually fairly slow, and even the Kenyans and Ethiopians suffer in the heat and don't run that fast.  There's a time frame for it.  In terms of the Olympics, I think 2024 will be my best chance, but of course I'll be aiming for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics too.

Kentaro Hirai - born May 1, 1993 in Takarazuka, Hyogo.  Played on the soccer team while at Hobai J.H.S.  As a junior at Hotoku Gakuen H.S. he won the Hyogo Youth Championships 5000 m, and finished 4th on the First Stage at the Hyogo Prefecture High School Ekiden and 5th on the First Stage at the Kinki Region High School Ekiden.  As a senior he won the Third Stage at the same ekidens.  Currently studying in Kyoto University's Faculty of Agriculture, he finished 2nd in the 5000 m at this spring's National Individual Track and Field Championships, bringing him to the forefront at the national level.  He holds PBs of 14:00.92 for 5000 m and 28:57.20 for 10000 m.  170 cm, 55 kg.