Skip to main content

Federation Eliminates Selection Advantage from National Team Program

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/1483468.html

an editorial by Hirokazu Ogishima
translated by Brett Larner

At a meeting of its executive committee May 27 in Tokyo, the JAAF made the decision to eliminate the advantage in Olympic and World Championships marathon team selection given to members of its National Team program.  The National Team program was launched last spring and is overseen directly by the JAAF's Development Committee, who at the time of the program's inauguration said that members would receive priority in consideration for the 2016 Rio Olympic team.  A year later they have flip-flopped and gone in exactly the opposite direction.

At the meeting the JAAF board discussed the organization of this year's National Team, the members of which have not yet been announced.  Criteria such as evaluation of athletes' performances over the last year will not change, but Vice-Chairman of Development Katsumi Sakai stated, "At the point in time when we determine Olympic team membership we will not take into consideration whether candidates are member of the National Team program."  Board member Toshihiko Seko, who at an earlier board meeting had said, "It would be strange is someone who ran a solid time was not chosen just because they were not in the National Team program," commented, "I think it's a good change.  It will give motivation to young athletes who are not members of the National Team program."

The change will help improve competition for the Olympic team by giving more chance for athletes without proven track records to make it, but the National Team program itself remains vague and ill-defined.  Last year team members were announced at the start of the fiscal year at the beginning of April, but at this point in the program's second year the Development Committee is still talking to potential members.  Vice-Chairman Sakai has said, "Our goal in Rio is to have our athletes finish among the top places.  To that end we will offer support for dealing with hot weather and such."  Be that as it may, with the National Team program members' advantage in Olympic and World Championships team selection eliminated it is likely that we will see athletes decline to take part in the program.

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Daniel and Kawauchi Win Saitama International Marathon

After missing a medal by 3 seconds at August's London World Championships, defending champ Flomena Cheyech Daniel (Kenya) made it two in a row as she won a tight battle against Shitaye Habtegebrel (Bahrain) to win the Saitama International Marathon in 2:28:39.

With the onus on Japanese women Reia Iwada (Dome) and Kaori Yoshida (Team RxL) to break 2:29:00 in order to qualify for Japan's new-format 2020 Olympic trials race, the pair of them did most of the heavy lifting for the first two-thirds of the race. Yoshida led the early kilometers before Iwade took over, and through strong head and tailwinds, over rolling hills and around sharp turns Iwade kept things moving just under target pace, shaking the pack down to just her, Daniel, Habtegebrel and relative unknown Bekelech Daba (Ethiopia) by 15 km.

Little changed up front until after the lead group hit the start of the hilliest 10 km on the course after 25 km. For the first time Iwade slipped to the rear of the pack, and on a …

Ekiden Weekend Roundup

Ekiden season is in full swing, and across the country it was another busy weekend. Although there were four major ekidens nationwide, the best action came as runners from high school to the pros tuned up for the string of national championship ekiden races stretching from the end of this month to mid-January. At Kanagawa's Nittai University Time Trials meet, two-time steeplechase junior world champion Jonathan Ndiku (Hitachi Butsuryu) pipped 5000 m junior world championships bronze medalist William Malel (Honda) at the line in the 10000 m A-heat, winning in 27:22.73 to Malel's 27:22.79. Four other Kenyans including Ndiku's junior teammate Richard Kimunyan broke 28 minutes as their coaches eye who to run at the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden.



Evans Yego of the tiny Sunbelx supermarket team won the more conservative 5000 m A-heat in 13:48.04, a race most notable for high schoolers Luka Musembi (Sendai Ikuei H.S.), Masato Suzuki (Suijo H.S.) and Reito Hanzawa (Gakuho Ishikawa H.S.) …

Breaking Down the Best-Ever Japanese Marathon Times By Country

Japanese marathoners these days have the reputation of rarely racing abroad, and of rarely racing well when they do. Back in the day that wasn't true; Japanese marathoners have won all the World Marathon Majors-to-be except New York, and two of the three Japanese men to have run 2:06 and all three women to have run 2:19 did it outside Japan. Whatever the extent to which things did turn inward along the way, the last few years have seen an uptick in Japanese runners going farther afield and running better there than any others before them.

The lists above and below show the fastest times run by Japanese athletes in different countries to 2:20:00 for men and 2:45:00 for women. Japanese men have run sub-2:20 marathons in 37 countries around the world including Japan, with Japanese women having cleared 2:45 in 33 countries including at home. Breaking it down by IAAF label times, more Japanese men have run label standard times abroad, but women have typically performed at a higher label…