translated by Brett Larner
Just over 30 minutes into the Tokyo Marathon, 2014 Asian Games silver medalist Kohei Matsumura (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) was already showing strain on his face. Around 12 km he suddenly fell back from the lead group never to return, finishing 25th in 2:16:25. "Am I shocked? I guess so..." he said in a thin voice post-race. "I felt it in my legs right from the start." In past races he has been able to pick it up partway through, but this time he was unable to focus and get into a steady rhythm. "I just couldn't get it together today," he said.
Last year Matsumura was the top Japanese finisher in Tokyo, 8th in 2:08:09. At the Asian Games he won the silver medal in the marathon. Aware of his status as Japan's top current marathon, pre-race he enthusiastically said, "My goal is 2:07. I want to live up to expectations." But those same expectations may have become an "invisible pressure." JAAF director of marathoning Takeshi Soh, one of the architects of both the Federation's sub-2:06:30 standard for the Beijing World Championships team and the National Team program that has overseen Matsumura and others since last April, commented, "I was concerned that he was overworking. He went too far."
At the Asian Games Matsumura missed gold and a guaranteed place at the World Championships by 1 second. With his performance in Tokyo his position has become precarious. "I think it'll take me a little time to get it back together after this," he said. Once a happy reminder of success, "Tokyo" now resonates with his humiliation.