Saturday, February 28, 2015

Star of the North Miho Shimizu Makes Her First World Cross Country Team

translated by Brett Larner

This week the Federation announced the Japanese national team for the Mar. 28 World Cross Country Championships in Guiyang, China.  Making the senior women's 8 km squad for the first time is the Star of the North, Hokkaido's native daughter Miho Shimizu (24, Team Hokuren).  Her first time making a Japanese national team, Shimizu was hopeful as she said, "It's a great honor.  I want to run an aggressive race, experience the level and strength of the world's top athlete and apply what I learn there to track season."

At the first of the two selection races, the Feb. 8 Chiba International Cross Country Meet she ran 29:30 for 8 km to place 5th overall as the 4th Japanese woman.  At the second selection race, the Feb. 21 Fukuoka International Cross Country Meet, she took 3rd overall in the 6th in 20:02, scoring her place on the team by finishing as the 2nd Japanese woman.

After graduating from Ashoro H.S. Shimizu was a star at Hakuoh University, running big at the National University Women's Ekiden.  She joined the Hokuren corporate team in the spring of 2013.  Since the retirement of Hokuren's leader Yukiko Akaba last spring Shimizu has grown to become the team's big hope for its "post-Akaba" era.  At last June's National Track and Field Championships she was 2nd in the 5000 m.  At December's National Corporate Women's Ekiden she ran the most competitive stage, showing her strength by placing 5th on the Third Stage and helping lead Hokuren to a 9th-place team finish, its first time cracking the single digits in five years.

After the New Year Shimizu worked on strengthening her running, doing 30 km a day of mileage on a cross country course on the island of Tokunoshima.  Her main focus for the year is making the 5000 m at August's Beijing World Championships.  Her plan for the season has her first track race being at the April 18-19 Oda Memorial Meet in Hiroshima, and she will also run the May 2 Cardinal Invitational in the United States for the first time.  At the Japanese National Track and Field Championships, June 26-28 in Niigata, she plans to clinch her place on the World Championships team.

"The experience of running World Cross will help me hit the World Championships standard (15:20), and that is going to lead directly on to the Rio Olympics next year," she said.  If successful, she will follow Akaba as only the second Hokuren runner to make a World Championships team.

Miho Shimizu - born May 13, 1990 in Ashoro, Hokkaido.  24 years old.  Began track and field in 4th grade, finishing 3rd in the National Junior High School Championships 1500 m while in 8th grade at Ashoro J.H.S.  While an 11th grader at Sapporo Seishu H.S. she transferred to Ashoro H.S.  At the National High School Championships she won both the 1500 m and 3000 m for two straight years.  Her senior year at Hakuoh University she placed 4th in the 5000 m at the National University Championships.  Her PBs are 15:34.22 for 5000 m and 32:14.44 for 10000 m.  159 cm, 51 kg, blood type A.  Her family includes her parents, a younger brother and an older brother.

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