translated and edited by Brett Larner
The evening of Nov. 3 civil servant runner Yuki Kawauchi (28, Saitama Pref. Gov't) returned to Tokyo's Narita Airport from the New York City Marathon, where his 6th-place finish was the best Japanese men's placing in this year's World Marathon Majors. Looking ahead from New York to December's Fukuoka International Marathon where he will take his shot at making the Rio de Janeiro Olympic team Kawauchi firmly declared his intentions, saying, "The field in New York was even stronger than in Fukuoka. Experiencing racing in the middle of top-notch world-class speed puts
me in a good position for Fukuoka. One way or another I'll be in the top three. If I can make the podium then I know I can compete against the best in the world. If they still don't put me on the Olympic team for that then there's nothing I can do about it."
Expecting the front group to go out fast, Kawauchi has no intention of following an unrealistic pace, instead planning to hold back and conserve his energy while the pacers remain through 30 km. "People watching on TV might wonder, 'Why isn't he going with the leaders?' but I am going to run a pace that suits me personally," he said, unambiguously stating his determination to stick to his own plan and deliver a solid performance. Kawauchi told the reporters that he is unconcerned about the inevitable hecklers along the course, saying, "I don't care about people who just want to make some noise."
At the Nov. 15 Ageo City Half Marathon Kawauchi aims to run under 1:03:30. Immediately after the race he will head to the nearby Saitama International Marathon, where he is an official ambassador, to cheer on the Japanese women aiming for the Rio Olympic team. It's a tough schedule to fit into one day but he intends to give it all both as a runner and as a supporter.
Translator's note: Kawauchi's comments seem to deliberately challenge JAAF Vice Chairment of Development Katsumi Sakai's April statement regarding current JAAF selection priorities: "You absolutely have to go with the lead group from the beginning. It's
not about winning. It's about trying to run the target time that we
determine. That is the message we have sent." The JAAF's target time for automatic selection to the Rio de Janeiro Olympic team is sub-2:06:30, a time only one Japanese man has ever achieved.