Monday, August 31, 2015

"I Was Afraid" - Japanese Long Distance's World Championships in Its Own Words

translated and edited by Brett Larner
click athletes' names for source articles

Despite the ongoing swell of high-level domestic performances over the last few years, the 2015 World Championships were nearly a complete failure for Japanese long distance.  The lone highlight was 23-year-old women's 5000 m runner Ayuko Suzuki (Team Japan Post Group), who frontran in both the qualifying heat and final on the way to setting an all-time Japanese #5 PB of 15:08.29 for 9th in the final, missing a place on the Rio Olympic team by a fraction of a second.  Her teammate in the final, Misaki Onishi (Team Sekisui Kagaku) and women's marathon 7th-placer Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku), who did score a Rio spot for making top 8, earned passing marks, but the rest of the distance team and in particular the men ranged from mediocre to completely unprepared.  The 2015 Beijing World Championships in the words of Japanese distance runners and those responsible for their performances:

Athletes
Masakazu Fujiwara (Honda) - Men's Marathon
PB: 2:08:12 (2003) - all-time Japanese #18
Beijing result: 2:21:06, 21st of 42
My time and place were bad so I have a lot of regret about this race.  I don't really know what happened.  My training went well and I was in good shape, but it just wasn't there.  I wanted to stay with the lead pack, but my legs wouldn't move.  The first half was good, and even when I fell behind I thought I could run people down later, but I just couldn't move.  Even though the pace was slow there was a lot of speeding up and slowing down, and I think I blew most of my energy on that in the first half.  I expected the second half to be hot, but it was cool.  The changes in the pace got more extreme and I just couldn't hold on to them any more.

Mai Ito (Otsuka Seiyaku) - Women's Marathon
PB: 2:24:42 (2015) - all-time Japanese #24
Beijing result: 2:29:48, 7th of 52 - earned place on Rio Olympic team
I exerted myself all the way and achieved my goal.  Basically my plan was to try to hang on until 35 km.  "Be patient until 30 km.  Also after 30 km, patience."  Once the six Africans took off I thought that if the three of us who were left ran together there was a chance we'd be able to retake them from behind.  This is Worlds, so I wanted to make it a race.  I've run a lot of races without winning, and I can't win stages in ekidens either.  I just run steadily and diligently, and finally it has led to the Olympics.

Kazuhiro Maeda (Kyudenko) - Men's Marathon
PB: 2:08:00 (2013) - all-time Japanese #14
Beijing result: 2:32:49, 40th of 42
I couldn't cope.  Around 19 km I got cramps in both legs.  I might have been dehydrated. 

Sairi Maeda (Daihatsu) - Women's Marathon
PB: 2:22:48 (2015) - all-time Japanese #8
Beijing result: 2:31:46, 13th of 52
Sorry.  I'm disappointed that I didn't reach my goal of a top 8 finish, but it was a totally great experience to have the chance to be in the World Championships for the first time.  I hope to use that experience in my next race.

Kenta Murayama (Asahi Kasei) - Men's 10000 m
PB: 27:39.95 (2015) - all-time Japanese #6
Beijing result: 29:50.22, 22nd of 23
I was kind of overcome by the atmosphere of the venue.  The runners from other countries were like demons.  I don't have enough experience.  I need to get more.

Kota Murayama (Asahi Kasei) - Men's 5000 m
PB: 13:19.62 (2015) - all-time Japanese #8
Beijing result: 14:07.11, 17th of 20 in Heat 2, 32nd of 39 overall
Well, uh, what can I say, I don't know.  I put in the training so I thought it would go alright, but when the pace picked up I was afraid.  Part of me said that if I went with them I would fall apart and drop off.  I'd done the training to handle it but when it was really time for the race I was scared.  I told myself, "Go with them!" but I didn't go.  Maybe it was the people who were around me.  "The people in this heat are pretty damned fast," or something.  I was thinking that it was too many fast people all in one place.  I knew that I had a chance of getting through on time if I went with them, but when we were lining up I couldn't stop thinking, "Do you really think you can hang with these big boys?"  I did what I had to do to get ready for it but when they were actually there in front of me I just froze.  If you just race in Japan then sure, you can be competitive in Japan, but I realized that if you don't get a lot of experience racing overseas you'll never be able to compete here.

Kasumi Nishihara (Yamada Denki) - Women's 10000 m
PB: 31:53.69 (2014)
Beijing Result: 32:12.95, 13th of 24
I wanted it to be a race over the last lap but I couldn't hang on at all.  I was feeling in good shape and my peaking was good too.  I thought I would break my PB, but I couldn't put out a good enough result.

Rei Ohara (Tenmaya) - Women's 10000 m
PB: 31:48.31 (2015)
Beijing result: 32:47.74, 22nd of 24
I could feel a huge difference in ability.  I couldn't follow at all.  I feel disappointed, mostly in my own shortcomings.

Misaki Onishi (Sekisui Kagaku) - Women's 5000 m
PB: 15:16.82 (2015) - all-time Japanese #17
Beijing result: 15:29.63, 14th of 15 in final
The big move came earlier than I was expecting and I was completely unable to handle it.  It made me painfully aware that I'm not there yet.  But, it was a wonderful experience to get to run in front of such big crowds on the last day.

Suguru Osako (Nike Oregon Project) - Men's 5000 m
PB: 13:08.40 (2015) - Japanese national record
Beijing result: 13:45.82, 7th of 19 in Heat 1, 22nd of 39 overall
Everything went as planned up until the end, but I feel like my positioning was wrong on the last lap and that was why I couldn't get into the top places.  Since it was the first heat I expected it to be slow.  I ran it the way I planned, but the people in front of me were dying so it was really hard to move up.  It was really slow.  I wasn't paying attention to time, just kind of thinking, "Feels a little slow."  I kept looking at the person right in front of me the whole time, so I think I was successful in staying calm and coping.  Not being able to move up into the top five in the last part was the only problem this time.

Risa Shigetomo (Tenmaya) - Women's Marathon
PB: 2:23:23 (2012) - all-time Japanese #10
Beijing results: 2:32:37, 14th of 52
I knew the race was really going to start after 30 km, but my ability hasn't reached that point yet.  If you want to compete in the Olympics you can never feel confident unless you have something to show for yourself.

Yuta Shitara (Honda) - Men's 10000 m
PB: 27:42.71 (2015) - all-time Japanese #12
Beijing result: 30:08.35 - 23rd of 23
I'm most disappointed that I was totally unable to compete right from the start.  In terms of my physical condition there was no problem, but when the pace picked up suddenly I couldn't go with it.  This was my first World Championships, and I think the different atmosphere here made me nervous going into the race.  I wanted to run my best since I was representing Japan, so right now I'm feeling pretty miserable about it.  I wasted my chance at the World Champs.  I want to start over from zero and re-earn the right to be here.

Azusa Sumi (Universal Entertainment) - Women's 5000 m
PB: 15:17.62 (2015) - all-time Japanese #20
Beijing result: 16:13.65, 11th of 12 in Heat 2, 22nd of 24 overall
I wanted to frontrun as much as I could, but I couldn't keep it together the way I planned.  The level here was completely different.  I couldn't hang on until the end.  I'll never get anywhere like this, so I have to train to get stronger.  I want to do the kind of training that will let me be able to stick with foreign athletes.

Ayuko Suzuki (Japan Post Group) - Women's 5000 m
PB: 15:14.96 (2014) - all-time Japanese #12
Beijing result: 15:08.29, 9th of 15 in final - all-time Japanese #5
Just a little more and I would have sealed up Rio.....That's pretty crushing.  But, I gave it everything I had.  I told myself, "Let's bet it all on the last lap," and I ran it 100%.  This represented what I'm capable of right now.  It will take high-quality training for me to get to the next level.

Yuka Takashima (Denso) - Women's 10000 m
PB: 31:37.32 (2015)
Beijing Result: 32:27.79, 20th of 24
The conditions were good.  Not delivering the results means that I'm not good enough.  If you don't become an athlete who can compete internationally, not just inside Japan, it doesn't mean anything.

Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Asahi Kasei) - Men's 10000 m
PB: 27:38.99 (2014) - all-time Japanese #5
Beijing result: 28:25.77, 18th of 23
All I can say is this was really bad.  We were gutless.  I didn't feel strong enough.  I couldn't even begin to be competitive.

Coaches, Bureaucrats, and Commentators
Takeshi Soh, JAAF Director of Marathoning
We had a faint glimmer of hope in our marathoners this time since they were experienced veterans, but they were forced to face cold reality.  I felt the difference in ability between Japan and the rest of the world profoundly.  We have to put our hopes in our young athletes.  If our young athletes take on the marathon when they are still young and full of momentum, and if we can select athletes who can perform in heat, then I think we have a chance.  With our current marathoners it is hopeless.

Kazuyoshi Tokumoto, head coach, Surugadai University ekiden team, 2003-2004 5000 m national champion
I don't know if that was really what Soh meant, but hey, you're the one in charge of development and selection, bro!  The top people shouldn't be making comments against the athletes!

Manabu Kawagoe, head coach, Edion corporate team, coach of 2009 World Championships marathon top Japanese woman Yuri Kano and others
That Soh article is very, very regrettable!  Age has nothing to do with it.  What do you say about the fact that the 4th-place runner was 41?   And who exactly was responsible for team selection and development, sir?  I look forward to seeing Fujiwara and Maeda make a full comeback from this.

Toshihiko Seko, JAAF executive board member and head coach, DeNA corporate team
It was pretty sad to see our marathoners falling off at 20 km in such a slow race.  There were a lot of people who survived who aren't nearly as good as Fujiwara and Maeda.  I don't think the fact that they fell behind at halfway means they were too weak, but nevertheless they were beaten without a fight.

This was a red light for Rio, and at this rate it's going to be too late for Tokyo 2020 as well.  It takes three years to transition from the track to being used to the marathon.  The JAAF has to encourage our young runners who are doing the 10000 m and ekidens now to enthusiastically take the plunge into the marathon.  If we don't catch our track runners from these Championships, Osako, the Murayamas, the Shitaras, right after the race and persuade them to start marathoning then they won't make it.  But the JAAF also needs to improve its development methods.

Yasuhiro Harada, JAAF Development Committee Chariman
We take this failure very seriously and have upset many fans.  We are very sorry and will continue to re-evaluate the development committee's future strategy.  There is no question that we must perform an orbit correction on the trip to Rio.

Yuko Arimori, 1992 and 1996 Olympic marathon medalist, Special Olympics Japan president and JAAF executive
The women's marathon went out slow, so the Japanese women did most of the leading.  The Africans just followed along indifferently, saving their strength, and, as usual, between 30 and 35 km they sped up and ran away.  Our runners couldn't respond at all and just hung on with what they had left to try to take one of the last few places in the top 8.

This is hardly the first time a race has played out this way.  The Ethiopian Roba won the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and then the 1999 Boston Marathon, and that was when African women began to excel and show their dominance in more and more races.  Am I the only one who thinks that this race pattern hasn't changed at all since then?

In the 15 or 16 years since then our athletes, head coaches, assistant coaches, trainers, everybody, kept saying, "This is pointless!  How can we compete?"  They very seriously thought, talked to people, found things that hadn't been taken care of yet, kept doing it over and over until they could overcome their weak points, all while training hard.  The main focus was the questions, "How can we compete?" "How can we win?"  And then Hiromi Suzuki won the World Championships and Naoko Takahashi and Mizuki Noguchi won the Olympics.  There were Africans in those races, of course.

So, once again, we should look back on the fact that we had that era and think, "How, why, were we able to do it?"  Physically and mentally.  The administration and coaches need to seriously discuss this.  That includes the selection process.

So, this time, 7th place.  To borrow words from the way they used to say it at the JAAF, the "lower podium."  That was the phrase they used when they were talking about their goals for Japan's women marathoners at the 1991 Tokyo World Championships.  I have to ask the people in charge who give out Olympic team spots now for that kind of placing whether they're comfortable seeing those athletes standing in front of the Japanese flag smiling and giving the peace sign, and whether they think this is really the right way.

Fujiwara and Okada Win Hokkaido Marathon (updated with video)

by Brett Larner



His career marked by more ups and downs than virtually any other elite marathoner, London Olympian Arata Fujiwara (Miki House) pulled yet another surprise comeback out of nowhere on a week's notice to win the hot and humid Hokkaido Marathon in Sapporo on Sunday.  One of only five Japanese men to ever win a marathon outside Japan under 2:10, after a mid-race surge Fujiwara's strategy evoked his course record-setting 2010 Ottawa Marathon win, waiting until the final km before going for a long surge over a group of five including his training partner and 2010 Hokkaido winner Cyrus Njui (Kenya/Arata Project), 2015 Nagano Marathon runner-up Tomohiro Tanigawa (Team Konica Minolta) and others.  Fujiwara crossed the finish line to claim his second career marathon victory in 2:16:49, one of the slower winning times in recent Hokkaido history but a full 11 seconds over Njui in the final kilometer.

Njui held off Tanigawa, who previously felt the sting of Fujiwara's finishing speed at the 2013 Great North Run half marathon in the U.K., by 3 seconds, 2:17:00 to 2:17:03 with 4th-placer Hideaki Tamura (Team JR Higashi Nihon) just behind in 2:17:04.  Maybe the only negative from Fujiwara's perspective: earlier the same morning his indie rival Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) won Australia's Perth City to Surf Marathon in a slightly faster time of 2:16:23.  With a successful marathon behind him Fujiwara now turns his focus to the corporate federation's ~$1 million bonus for a new Japanese national record.

The women's race was clearer-cut, with Yui Okada (Team Otsuka Seiyaku), a training partner of Mai Ito who simultaneously took 7th in the Beijing World Championships women's marathon, easily winning her debut in 2:32:10.  Having made a return to marathoning at March's Seoul International Marathon following her two-year suspension for a positive EPO test at the 2012 Honolulu Marathon, 2006 Hokkaido winner Kaori Yoshida (Tokyo T&F Assoc.) was just over a minute behind in 2:33:14, showing few signs of aging at just 21 seconds off her 2006 winning time.  Corporate leaguer Yuko Mizuguchi (Team Denso) was a close 3rd behind Yoshida in 2:33:20.

Hokkaido Marathon
Sapporo, Hokkaido, 8/30/15 
click here for complete results

Men
1. Arata Fujiwara (Miki House) - 2:16:49
2. Cyrus Njui (Kenya/Arata Project) - 2:17:00
3. Tomohiro Tanigawa (Konica Minolta) - 2:17:03
4. Hideaki Tamura (JR Higashi Nihon) - 2:17:04
5. Yuji Iwata (Mitsubishi HPS Nagasaki) - 2:17:29
6. Akinori Iida (Honda) - 2:18:22
7. Sho Matsumoto (Nikkei Business Service) - 2:18:22
8. Ryoichi Matsuo (Asahi Kasei) - 2:18:56
9. Yuya Ito (Toyota) - 2:18:58
10. Akiyuki Iwanaga (Kyudenko) - 2:19:12
11. Teppei Suegami (YKK) - 2:19:25
12. Kenta Chiba (Fujitsu) - 2:19:33
13. Yu Chiba (Honda) - 2:20:48
-----
DNF - Ryosuke Fukuyama (Honda)

Women
1. Yui Okada (Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:32:10
2. Kaori Yoshida (Tokyo T&F Assoc.) - 2:33:14
3. Yuko Mizuguchi (Denso) - 2:33:20
4. Asami Furuse (Kyocera) - 2:34:12
5. Aki Odagiri (Tenmaya) - 2:35:01
6. Megumi Amako (Canon AC Kyushu) - 2:35:23
7. Yuka Takemoto (Canon AC Kyushu) - 2:36:35
8. Yukiko Okuno (Shiseido) - 2:36:46
9. Kana Orino (Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 2:38:02
10. Maya Nishio (Hokuren) - 2:39:05

(c) 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Beijing World Championships Day Nine - Japanese Results

Beijing, China, 8/30/15
click here for complete results

Women's 5000 m Final
1. Almaz Ayana (Ethiopia) - 14:26.83 - MR
2. Senbere Teferi (Ethiopia) - 14:44.07
3. Genzebe Dibaba (Ethiopia) - 14:44.14
4. Viola Jelagat Kibiwot (Kenya) - 14:46.16
5. Mercy Cherono (Kenya) - 15:01.36
6. Janet Kisa (Kenya) - 15:02.68
7. Irene Chepet Cheptai (Kenya) - 15:03.41
8. Susan Kuijken (Netherlands) - 15:08.00
9. Ayuko Suzuki (Japan) - 15:08.29 - PB - all-time Japanese #5
10. Eloise Wellings (Australia) - 15:09.62
-----
14. Misaki Onishi (Japan) - 15:29.63

Beijing World Championships Women's Marathon - Japanese Results

by Brett Larner

In a sight already familiar from the women's 5000 m heats and 10000 m final, the Japanese women ran up front together through most of the Beijing World Championships women's marathon, the slow early pace and low-hanging fruit of the JAAF's promise of a place on the Rio Olympic team to the first of them to make the top 8 combining to ensure they stayed near the front until things really got moving.  Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) was the first Japanese woman to go to the lead, joined in short order by domestic favorite Sairi Maeda (Team Daihatsu) and the controversial Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya).  Apart from periodic surges at water stations by Mare Dibaba and other members of the Ethiopian team the Japanese trio led until well into the second half tailed all the while by rival Hye-Song Kim (North Korea).

Shigetomo, again followed by Kim, made the first real effort to get the pace moving faster after halfway, killing off the European members of the lead pack and sending Ito and Maeda to the back row.  Ito slipped a few meters behind and appeared to be in trouble, but on the uphill of an overpass it was Maeda who first really lost touch with the leaders.  A surge from 2014 Asian Games champion and 2015 Nagoya Women's Marathon winner Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain) dropped all the non-African-born contenders, leaving six up front with Ito leading a chase group of five.

Up front it came down a sprint finish with Dibaba taking gold in 2:27:35 a stride ahead of Helah Kiprop (Kenya), Kirwa consigned to bronze in 2:27:39.  Further back, Ito pulled away from Kim and the others in pursuit of Tirfi Tsegaye (Ethiopia), a straggler from the lead group, but could not close the gap.  7th in 2:29:48, she nevertheless cleared the JAAF's requirements and scored herself a place on the Rio Olympic team, along with men's 50 km racewalk bronze medalist Takayuki Tanii one of only two Japanese athletes to do it in Beijing.  Maeda overtook Shigetomo late in the race, 13th in 2:31:46 with Shigetomo 14th in 2:32:37.

The sight of the entire Japanese women's team frontrunning made for good TV for the home crowd and played to memories of the golden years, but ultimately the results were only passable.  In some events, say the men's 200 m or women's 5000 m, a top 8 finish by a Japanese athlete would be meaningful, but in the women's marathon where Japanese athletes have made the top 8 at every World Championships except 1983, 1987 and 1995, it was a virtual handout.  With the remaining two places on the Rio team to be settled between three domestic selection races the assigning of one place now leaves plenty of room for the same kind of chicanery that saw Shigetomo named to the Beijing team over Yokohama selection race winner Tomomi Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei).  The wisdom of this process and whether Japanese women will prove relevant in Rio either way remain to be seen a year from now.

15th IAAF World Championships Women's Marathon
Beijing, China, 8/30/15
click here for complete results

1. Mare Dibaba (Ethiopia) - 2:27:35
2. Helah Kiprop (Kenya) - 2:27:36
3. Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain) - 2:27:39
4. Jemima Sumgong (Kenya) - 2:27:42
5. Edna Kiplagat (Kenya) - 2:28:18
6. Tigist Tufa (Ethiopia) - 2:29:12
7. Mai Ito (Japan) - 2:29:48
8. Tirfi Tsegaye (Ethiopia) - 2:30:54
9. Hye-Song Kim (North Korea) - 2:30:59
10. Serena Burla (U.S.A.) - 2:31:06
-----
13. Sairi Maeda (Japan) - 2:31:46
14. Risa Shigetomo (Japan) - 2:32:37

(c) 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Saturday, August 29, 2015

'Japanese Government Confirm New Tokyo Olympic Stadium Plans - With January 2020 as Target Completion Date'

http://www.insidethegames.biz/articles/1029669/japanese-government-confirm-new-tokyo-stadium-plans-with-january-2020-target-completion-date

Beijing World Championships Day Eight - Japanese Results

Beijing, China, 8/29/15
click here for complete results

Men's 50 km Race Walk
1. Matej Toth (Slovakia) - 3:40:32
2. Jared Tallent (Australia) - 3:42.17
3. Takayuki Tanii (Japan) - 3:42:55
-----
4. Hirooki Arai (Japan) - 3:43:44
34. Yuki Yamazaki (Japan) - 4:03:54

Masters Women 400 m
1. Sarah Louise Read Cayton (Great Britain) - 1:00.05
2. Virginia Corinne Mitchell (Great Britain) - 1:00.81
3. Elizabeth Gail Wilson (New Zealand) - 1:02.54
-----
7. Yukiko Usui (Japan) - 1:05.34

Men's 4x100 m Relay Heat 1
1. U.S.A. - 37.91 - Q
2. Great Britain - 38.20 - Q
3. Germany - 38.57 - Q
4. Japan - 38.60

Women's 4x400 m Relay Heat 2
1. U.S.A. - 3:23.05 - Q
2. Great Britain - 3:23.90 - Q
3. France - 3:24.86 - Q
-----
7. Japan - 3:28.91 - NR

Men's 4x400 m Relay Heat 1
1. Great Britain - 2:59.05 - Q
2. Belgium - 2:59.28 - Q
3. France - 2:59.42 - Q
-----
7. Japan - 3:02.97

Men's Decathlon
1. Ashton Eaton (U.S.A.) - 9045 - WR
2. Damian Warner (Canada) - 8695 - NR
3. Rico Freimuth (Germany) - 8561 - PB
-----
16. Akihiko Nakamura (Japan) - 7745
20. Keisuke Ushiro (Japan) - 7532

Friday, August 28, 2015

Beijing World Championships Day Seven - Japanese Results

Beijing, China, 8/28/15
click here for complete results

Women's 20 km Race Walk
1. Hong Liu (China) - 1:27:45
2. Xiuzhi Lu (China) - 1:27:45
3. Lyudmyla Olyanovska (Ukraine) - 1:28:13
4. Ana Cabecinha (Portugal) - 1:29:29
5. Antonella Palmisano (Italy) - 1:29:34
-----
25. Kumiko Okada (Japan) - 1:34:56

Men's High Jump Qualification Group A
1. Derek Drouin (Canada) - 2.31 m - Q
2. Mutaz Essa Barshim (Qatar) - 2.31 m - Q
3. Brandon Starc (Australia) - 2.13 m - PB - Q
-----
15. Naoto Tobe (Japan) - 2.26 m
16. Takashi Eto (Japan) - 2.22 m

Men's High Jump Qualification Group B
1. Guowei Zhang (China) - 2.31 m - Q
2. Bohdan Bondarenko (Ukraine) - 2.31 m - Q
3. Dimitrios Chondrokoukis (Cyprus) - 2.31 m - Q
-----
16. Yuji Hiramatsu (Japan) - 2.17 m

Women's Javelin Throw Qualification Group A
1. Britney Borman (U.S.A.) - 64.22 m - Q
2. Christina Obergfull (Germany) - 64.10 m - Q
3. Sunette Vilioen (South Africa) - 63.93 m - Q
-----
9. Yuki Ebihara (Japan) - 60.30 m - Q

Men's Decathlon - Day One Point Total
1. Ashton Eaton (U.S.A.) - 4703
2. Damian Warner (Canada) - 4530
3. Rico Freimuth (Germany) - 44:06
----
22. Akihiko Nakamura (Japan) - 4030
26. Keisuke Ushiro (Japan) - 3766

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Sani Brown's Semifinal Pulls in 25.5% Viewership Ratings, Highest So Far at Beijing World Championships

http://news.biglobe.ne.jp/entertainment/0827/mnn_150827_4806869453.html
http://news.mynavi.jp/news/2015/08/26/220/
http://news.mynavi.jp/news/2015/08/24/379/

translated and edited by Brett Larner

At 9:39 p.m. on Aug. 26 during the TBS network's exclusive live broadcast of the Beijing World Championships, the men's 200 m Semifinal 2 featuring Japan's 16-year-old Abdul Hakim Sani Brown recorded an instantaneous viewership rating of 25.5%, the highest so far during these World Championships.  The high ratings continued during Semifinal 3, Japan's Kei Takase and Kenji Fujimitsu pulling in ratings of 24.5% at 9:47 p.m.  For comparison, Sani Brown's opening heat on Aug. 25 where he placed 2nd generated 23.1% viewership ratings, with world record holder Usain Bolt's 200 m heat attracting only 19.9% ratings.  Bolt's 100 m title defense over rival Justin Gatlin on Aug. 23 scored 24.2% viewership ratings.

Average ratings for the men's 200 m semifinals program window on Aug. 26 from 9:10 p.m. to 10:34 p.m. were 18.5%.  During the preceding 7:00 p.m. - 9:09 p.m. program window which included Japan's Ryohei Arai in the men's javelin final and Chisato Fukushima in the women's 200 m heats average viewership ratings were 13.7%, indicating the high level of attention the Beijing World Championships are receiving.  Ratings were determined by Video Research Inc.

Beijing World Championships Day Six - Japanese Results

Beijing, China, 8/27/15
click here for complete results

Women's 5000 m Heat 1
1. Genzebe Dibaba (Ethiopia) - 15:20.82 - Q
2. Mercy Cherono (Kenya) - 15:20.94 - Q
3. Mimi Belete (Bahrain) - 15:20.94 - Q
4. Irene Chepet Cheptai (Kenya) - 15:21.03 - Q
5. Susan Kuijken (Netherlands) - 15:25.67 - Q
6. Misaki Onishi (Japan) - 15:33.84 - q
7. Stephanie Twell (Great Britain) - 15:34.72 - q
8. Nicole Tully (U.S.A.) - 15:41.03 - q

Women's 5000 m Heat 2
1. Almaz Ayana (Ethiopia) - 15:09.40 - Q
2. Senbere Teferi (Ethiopia) - 15:14.57 - Q
3. Viola Jelegat Kibiwot (Kenya) - 15:15.27 - Q
4. Janet Kisa (Kenya) - 15:26.49 - Q
5. Eloise Wellings (Australia) - 15:26.67 - Q
6. Ayuko Suzuki (Japan) - 15:28.18 - q
7. Jennifer Wenth (Austria) - 15:43.57 - q
-----
11. Azusa Sumi (Japan) - 16:13.65

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Beijing World Championships Day Five - Japanese Results

Beijing, China, 8/26/15
click here for complete results

Men's 200 m Semifinal 2 -0.2 m/s
1. Justin Gatlin (U.S.A.) - 19.87 - Q
2. Alonso Edward (Panama) - 20.02 - Q
3. Femi Ogunode (Qatar) - 20.05 - NR - q
-----
5. Abdul Hakim Sani Brown (Japan) - 20.47

Men's 200 m Semifinal 3 +0.8 m/s
1. Usain Bolt (Jamaica) - 19.95 - Q
2. Anaso Jobodwana (South Africa) - 20.01 - Q
3. Ramil Guliyev (Turkey) - 20.10 - q
-----
7. Kenji Fujimitsu (Japan) - 20.34
8. Kei Takase (Japan) - 20.64

Women's 200 m Heat 5 +0.1 m/s
1. Veronica Campbell-Brown (Jamaica) - 22.79 - Q
2. Semoy Hackett (Trinidad and Tobago) - 22.89 - Q
3. Margaret Adeoye (Great Britain) - 23.10 - Q
-----
5. Chisato Fukushima (Japan) - 23.30

Men's 5000 m Heat 1
1. Hagos Gebrhiwet (Ethiopia) - 13:45.00 - Q
2. Ben True (U.S.A.) - 13:45.09 - Q
3. Edwin Cheruiyot Soi (Kenya) - 13:45.28 - Q
4. Tom Farrell (Great Britain) - 13:45.29 - Q
5. Imane Merga (Ethiopia) - 13:45.41 - Q
-----
7. Suguru Osako (Japan) - 13:45.82

Men's 5000 m Heat 2
1. Yomif Kejelcha (Ethiopia) - 13:19.38 - Q
2. Mo Farah (Great Britain) - 13:19.44 - Q
3. Mohammed Ahmed (Canada) - 13:19.58 - Q
4. Caleb Mwangangi Ndiku (Kenya) - 13:19.58 - Q
5. Albert Kibichii Rop (Bahrain) - 13:19.61 - Q
-----
17. Kota Murayama (Japan) - 14:07.11

Men's Javelin Throw Final
1. Julius Yego (Kenya) - 92.72 m
2. Ihab Abdelrahman El Sayed (Egypt) - 88.99 m
3. Tero Pitkamaki (Finland) - 87.64 m
-----
9. Ryohei Arai (Japan) - 83.07 m

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Beijing World Championships Day Four - Japanese Results

Bejing, China, 8/25/15
click here for complete results

Men's 200 m Heat 1 -0.3 m/s
1. Ramil Guliyev (Turkey) - 20.01 - NR - Q
2. Kenji Fujimitsu (Japan) - 20.28 - Q
3. Reynier Mena (Cuba) - 20.37 - Q

Men's 200 m Heat 2 -0.2 m/s
1. Alonso Edward (Panama) - 20.11 - Q
2. Churandy Martina (Netherlands) - 20.22 - Q
3. Christophe Lemaitre (France) - 20.29 - Q
4. Kei Takase (Japan) - 20.33 - q

Men's 200 m Heat 4
1. Justin Gatlin (U.S.A.) - 20.19 - Q
2. Abdul Hakim Sani Brown (Japan) - 20.35 - Q
3. Nickel Ashmeade (Jamaica) - 20.40 - Q

Monday, August 24, 2015

Beijing World Championships Day Three - Japanese Results

Bejing, China, 8/24/15
click here for complete results

Women's 100 m Semifinal 2 +0.9 m/s
1. Tori Bowie (U.S.A.) - 10.87 - Q
2. Kelly-Ann Baptiste (Trinidad and Tobago) - 10.90 - Q
3. Natasha Morrison (Jamaica) - 10.96 - PB - q
-----
7. Chisato Fukushima (Japan) - 11.32

Women's 10000 m
1. Vivian Jepkemoi Cheruiyot (Kenya) - 31:41.31
2. Gelete Burka (Ethiopia) - 31:41.77
3. Emily Infeld (U.S.A.) - 31:43.49
4. Molly Huddle (U.S.A.) - 31:43.58
5. Sally Jepkosgei Kipyego (Kenya) - 31:44.42
-----
13. Kasumi Nishihara (Japan) - 32:12.95
20. Yuka Takashima (Japan) - 32:27.79
22. Rei Ohara (Japan) - 32:47.74

Men's Long Jump Qualification Group A
1. Jianan Wang (China) - 8.12 m +0.4 m/s - q
2. Kafetien Gomis (France) - 8.09 m +0.9 m/s - q
3. Aleksandr Menkov (Russia) - 8.08 m +0.4 m/s - q
-----
5. Yohei Sugai (Japan) - 7.92 m -0.6 m/s

Men's Javelin Throw Qualification Group A
1. Ryohei Arai (Japan) - 84.66 m - Q
2. Braian Toledo (Argentina) - 83.32 - NR - Q
3. Thomas Rohler (Germany) - 83.32 m - Q

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Beijing World Championships Day Two - Japanese Results

Bejing, China, 8/23/15
click here for complete results

Women's 100 m Heat 7 -0.5 m/s
1. Rosangela Santos (Brazil) - 11.14 - Q
2. English Gardner (U.S.A.) - 11.16 - Q
3. Chisato Fukushima (Japan) - 11.23 - Q

Men's 400 m Heat 3
1. LaShawn Merritt (U.S.A.) - 44.51 - Q
2. Javon Francis (Jamaica) - 44.83 - Q
3. Kevin Borlee (Belgium) - 45.01- Q
-----
6. Yuzo Kanemaru (Japan) - 45.65

Men's 400 mH Semifinal 3
1. Michael Tinsley (U.S.A.) - 48.47 - Q
2. Nicholas Bett (Kenya) - 48.54 - Q
3. Kariem Hussein (Switzerland) - 48.59
-----
8. Yuki Matsushita (Japan) - 51.10

Men's 20 km RW
1. Miguel Angel Lopez (Spain) - 1:19:14 - PB
2. Zhen Wang (China) - 1:19:29
3. Benjamin Thorne (Canada) - 1:19:57 - NR
-----
14. Isamu Fujisawa (Japan) - 1:21:51
48. Eiki Takahashi (Japan) - 1:28:30
DNF - Yusuke Suzuki (Japan)

Beijing World Championships Day One - Japanese Results

Beijing, China, 8/22/15
click here for complete results

Men's 100 m Heat 1 -0.1 m/s
1. Asafa Powell (Jamaica) - 9.95 - Q
2. Bingtian Su (China) - 10.03 - Q
3. Akani Simbine (South Africa) - 10.09 - Q
4. Kei Takase (Japan) - 10.15

Men's 10000 m
1. Mo Farah (Great Britain) - 27:01.13
2. Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor (Kenya) - 27:01.76
3. Paul Tanui (Kenya) - 27:02.83
4. Bedan Karoki (Kenya) - 27:04.77
5. Galen Rupp (U.S.A.) - 27:08.91
-----
18. Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Japan) - 28:25.77
22. Kenta Murayama (Japan) - 29:50.22
23. Yuta Shitara (Japan) - 30:08.35

Men's 400 mH Heat 1
1. Nicholas Bett (Kenya) - 48.37 - Q
2. Timofey Chalyy (Russia) - 49.05 - Q
3. Jeffery Gibson (Bahamas) - 49.09 - Q
---
8. Takayuki Kishimoto (Japan) - 49.78

Men's 400 mH Heat 2
1. Boniface Mucheru Tumuti (Kenya) - 48.79 - Q
2. Michael Tinsley (U.S.A.) - 48.91 - Q
3. Javier Culson (Puerto Rico) - 49.02 - Q
-----
6. Yuta Konishi (Japan) - 49.58

Men's 400 mH Heat 5
1. Denis Kudryavtsev (Russia) - 48.51 - Q
2. Patryk Dobek (Poland) - 48.94 - Q
3. Johnny Dutch (U.S.A.) - 48.97 - Q
4. Yuki Matsushita (Japan) - 49.34 - Q

Men's Pole Vault Qualification Group A
1. Sam Kendricks (U.S.A.) - 5.70 m - Q
2. Shawnacy Barber (Canada) - 5.70 m - Q
2. Michal Balner (Czech Republic) - 5.70 m - Q
-----
12. Seito Yamamoto (Japan) - 5.65 m

Men's Pole Vault Qualification Group B
1. Pawel Wojciechowski (Poland) - 5.70 m - Q
1. Robert Sobera (Poland) - 5.70 m - Q
1. Robert Renner (Slovenia) - 5.70 m - Q - NR
-----
10. Hiroki Ogita (Japan) - 5.65 m

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Beijing World Championships Men's Marathon - Japanese Results

by Brett Larner

For the first time since 1997 no Japanese men made the top 10 in a World Championships marathon.  With the withdrawal of Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu), the favorite to clear the JAAF's top 8 requirement for a place on the Rio de Janeiro Olympic team, and no alternate in place to take his spot, Masakazu Fujiwara (Team Honda) and Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko), both 34 and with sub-2:09 bests, had a chance of making it on paper, but neither proved up to the task.  Looking heavy in stride, Maeda was out of the lead pack early in the race.  Fujiwara looked more comfortable and lasted longer but likewise could not cope when the race really began.  Fujiwara ultimately finished 21st in 2:21:06, just ahead of the only Kenyan athlete to finish the race, with Maeda 40th out of 42 finishers in 2:32:49, seconds behind Mongolia's Ser-Od Bat-Ochir (Team NTN).  Chol Pak (North Korea), who had an unfortunate fall late in the race at last year's Asian Games, was the top Asian-born finisher at 11th in 2:15:44.

The Japanese men's results were possibly not the absolute worst in World Championships history, but they were not far off.  Altogether the race's outcome illustrated the total failure of the JAAF's National Team project, of the leadership of its founders Katsumi Sakai, Takeshi Soh and others, of a selection process that has grown increasingly murky under the same people, and ultimately of the corporate league mindset.  In post-race interviews neither Fujiwara nor Maeda could explain what went wrong, but, with no disrespect to Italy, if Italy can put two in the top 8 and Japan can't make the top 20 you know there is something wrong.  Eritrea and Uganda taking five of the top 10 was indicative of the changes happening in the landscape of marathoning, changes that the older generation of Japanese bureaucrats and coaches are simply not able to understand let alone cope with.  As part of TBS' broadcast crew Toshihiko Seko bemoaned the lack of any young Japanese athletes in the race, but without some unlikely fundamental changes it's hard to see the phenomenal young generation coming up right now faring much better as they become the grist for the corporate league mill. 

15th IAAF World Championships Men's Marathon
Beijing, China, 8/22/15
click here for complete results

1. Ghirmay Ghebreslassie (Eritrea) - 2:12:28
2. Yemane Tsegay (Ethiopia) - 2:13:08
3. Munyo Solomon Mutai (Uganda) - 2:13:30
4. Ruggero Pertile (Italy) - 2:14:23
5. Shumi Dechasa (Bahrain) - 2:14:36
6. Stephen Kiprotich (Uganda) - 2:14:43
7. Lelisa Desisa (Ethiopia) - 2:14:54
8. Daniele Meucci (Italy) - 2:14:54
9. Amanuel Mesel (Eritrea) - 2:15:07
10. Jackson Kiprop (Uganda) - 2:15:16
-----
11. Chol Pak (North Korea) - 2:15:44
21. Masakazu Fujiwara (Japan) - 2:21:06
38. Ser-Od Bat-Ochir (Mongolia) - 2:32:09
40. Kazuhiro Maeda (Japan) - 2:32:49
-----
DNF - Dennis Kimetto (Kenya)
DNF - Wilson Kipsang (Kenya)
DNF - Ali Hasan Mahbood (Bahrain)
DNS - Masato Imai (Japan)

Friday, August 21, 2015

Tulu, Kawauchi and Koitile Headline Sanlam Cape Town Marathon Men's Race

by Brett Larner

With 30 days to go until South Africa's Sanlam Cape Town Marathon the organizers have announced the men's elite field for a race the hope will elevate Cape Town from IAAF silver label status to become the first gold label race in Africa.  Defending champion and course record holder Willy Kibor Koitile (Kenya) returns to face 2013 Dusseldorf Marathon winner Dereje Debele Tulu (Ethiopia), 2014 Hofu Marathon winner Yuki Kawauchi (Japan) appearing with support from JRN, 2013 Prague Marathon winner Nicholas Kipngeno Kemboi (Qatar), 2013 Castellón Marathon winner Andualem Belay Shiferaw (Ethiopia) and more.  Also in the field is South African great Hendrick Ramaala competing in the masters' division.  With course changes this year to take out some of the hills Koitile's 2:10:45 course record should be in range of a field featuring eight men who have run faster than that within the last three years.

Making his South African debut, Kawauchi will be hoping for a return to form after a 2015 mostly lost to serial injuries stemming from a sprained ankle shortly after his Hofu win last December, where Koitile finished 3rd almost four minutes behind him.  The duo's rivalry extends to Australia's Sydney Marathon, where Kawauchi's 2:11:52 winning time was almost two minutes faster than Koitile's a year later.

JRN will be on-site to cover the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon live.

Sanlam Cape Town Marathon Elite Field
Cape Town, South Africa, 9/20/15
complete women's field T.B.A.
times listed are 2013-2015 best times

Men
Dereje Debele Tulu (Ethiopia) - 2:07:48
Yuki Kawauchi (Japan) - 2:08:14
Abraham Girma Bekele (Ethiopia) - 2:08:20
Haile Haja Gemeda (Ethiopia) - 2:08:35
Nicholas Kipngeno Kemboi (Qatar) - 2:08:51
Peter Lotogor Kamais (Kenya) - 2:09:53
Willy Kibor Koitile (Kenya) - 2:09:58
Andualem Belay Shiferaw (Ethiopia) - 2:09:59
David Kemboi Kiyeng (Kenya) - 2:11:17
Xolisa Tyali (South Africa) - 2:16:03
Gladwin Mzazi (South Africa) - 2:17:43
Leswene Mailola (South Africa) - 2:17:58
Hendrick Ramaala (South Africa) - 2:21:40

(c) 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

'New Plagiarism Concern, Now in U.S., for Tokyo Olympics Logo Designer'

http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150821p2g00m0dm035000c.html

The two designs referenced in the article above, one by American Josh Divine from 2011 and the other from Tokyo Olympics logo designer Kenjiro Sano from earlier this year:

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Marathon Commentator Kin Makes Proposals for Olympic Sub-Track and 6:00 a.m. Marathon Start

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/society/news/2015/08/20/kiji/K20150820010967890.html

translated by Brett Larner

Speaking about the forthcoming new plans for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Stadium on Aug. 19, former Hakone Ekiden star turned marathon broadcast commentator Tetsuhiko Kin made several proposals for the plans in response to a request from Tokyo Olympic Committee member Toshiaki Endo, saying, "If the softball field and tennis courts are relocated, the space can be used in a more flexible way including the building of a sub-track."  With regard to when to hold the 2020 Olympic marathons, Kin advised, "A start around 6:00 a.m. when temperatures are lower is the most realistic."

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Takashima Feeling Ambitious Ahead of World Championships Debut

http://www.asahi.com/articles/ASH8L3S2KH8LONFB009.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Set to run the women's 10000 m at the Beijing World Championships, Yuka Takashima, 27, of the Denso corporation's Daian Factory in the city of Inabe, Mie, met with Inabe mayor Yasushi Hioki on Aug. 18 to talk about her hopes and plans for the race.  A native of Yamaguchi prefecture, Takashima now runs for Denso and can sometimes be seen training on the streets of Inabe.  Facing her world-level debut, Takashima was quietly confident as she told Mayor Hioki, "My ambition to compete with the best in the world is stronger than ever."  Mayor Hioki wrote "Fly on to the world!" and a personal support message on Takashima's t-shirt. 

The World Championships begin Aug. 22 with the the women's 10000 m scheduled to start at 9:30 p.m. (Japan time) on Aug. 24.  On the day of the race 200 Denso workers will watch Takashima run on TV in the factory cafeteria, while another group of 50 Denso workers in China will cheer her on in person at the stadium.

Japanese Team Heads to Beijing

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2015/08/19/kiji/K20150819010962120.html

translated by Brett Larner

Concerned about the potentially serious impact of Beijing's air pollution, most of the Japanese team arriving for the upcoming World Championships were wearing surgical masks.  Running in the Championships' first event, the men's marathon, Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko) commented, "I'm a bit nervous since we're up first, but I want to try to get things off to a good start."  Looking toward the guaranteed place on the 2016 Rio Olympic team available if he finishes in the top 8, Maeda's marathon teammate Masakazu Fujiwara (Team Honda) said, "I'm going to run in the lead group right from first half."

Competing in his third-straight World Championships, sprinter Kei Takase (Team Fujitsu) spoke confidently as he said, "This is the best shape I've been in up to now.  More than anything I want to produce good results."  Along with Takase, men's 10000 m runners Yuta Shitara (Team Honda) and Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Team Asahi Kasei) and others also made the trip to Beijing.  On the day of their arrival Beijing was a cool 27 degrees, and when temperatures dropped even further in the evening they headed to the sub-track for a light shakeout.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Beijing World Championships: 10 Races to Watch Japanese Athletes In (updated)

by Brett Larner
updated throughout World Championships as start lists are posted

Although its medal chances are slim, with three looking solid, a chance for five and even six conceivable, in many events Japan is sending one of its best-ever teams to the Aug. 22-30 Beijing World Championships.  The potential medal count may not be that large, but the real measurement of success will be progress at the next level down as everything in the Japanese industry focuses toward Tokyo 2020.  The stakes are high for Japanese athletes, as in every individual event the top-placing Japanese will secure a place on the Rio de Janeiro Olympic team if they make the top 8 in their final.  Based on the entry lists released by the IAAF on Aug. 15, with the possibility of breakthroughs into the top 10 and in a few cases the magic top 8 these ten events in Beijing are especially worth watching for fans of Japan at home and abroad:
  1. Men's 20 km Race Walk: World record holder Yusuke Suzuki is the heavy favorite for what would probably be Japan's only gold medal in Beijing, his 1:16:36 record from this spring nearly a minute and a half ahead of his closest rival, Zhen Wang (China), and Suzuki's teammate Eiki Takahashi who comes in ranked #3.  Suzuki has had injury troubles the last few months but still managed to set Japanese national records for track race walk 5000 m and 10000 m in July, so his chances are still looking good.  Third Japanese man Isamu Fujisawa is ranked 7th, making it possible for Japan to have three inside the top ten, two in medal positions.
  2. Men's 50 km Race Walk: Matej Toth (Slovakia) is likewise the heavy favorite in the longer men's walk, his best of 3:34:38 far ahead of Japan's #2 and #3-ranked men Takayuki Tanii (Japan) and Hirooki Arai (Japan).  Both Tanii and Arai just missed the 3:40:12 national record this spring and are likewise well ahead of Aleksandr Yargunkin (Russia) and Jared Tallent (Australia).  National record holder Yuki Yamazaki is ranked 6th, again setting up Japan to score two medals and three inside the top ten.
  3. Men's 4x100 m Relay: Japan won Olympic bronze in the men's 4x100 m at the Beijing Olympics and has stayed solid since, its secret strength coming in its flawless exchanges.  This time the team comes to Beijing ranked 5th, the U.S.A. and Jamaica predictably occupying the top two positions and home squad China a surprising 3rd after running 37.99 to win last fall's Asian Games.  It will take a bit of luck, say Team U.S.A.'s typical baton work, for Japan to squeeze into the medals, but it has happened before.  The popular 2015 World Youth Games 100 m and 200 m double gold medalist Abdul Hakim Sani Brown has reportedly struggled to measure up in exchange practice and may not run on the Japanese relay team.
  4. Women's Marathon: Collegiate marathon national record holder and joint mother-daughter combo marathon world record holder Sairi Maeda turned in the best Japanese women's marathon performance in many a long year in Nagoya in March, running an all-time Japanese #8 2:22:48 despite falling midway through the race and badly bloodying both knees.  Mai Ito also broke into the all-time Japanese top 25 in the same race, running 2:24:42 to make the Beijing team.  The selection of all-time Japanese #10 Risa Shigetomo over Yokohama selection race winner Tomomi Tanaka can be taken as a sign that there's as much corruption in the JAAF as anywhere else, but bad vibes aside it's a good team.  They're up against not only tough Ethiopian and Kenyan squads but also both of the women who beat Maeda in Nagoya, 2014 Asian Games gold medalist Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain) and 41-year-old Russian (!) Mariya Konovalova, but if Kayoko Fukushi could slog her way through dangerously hot conditions into bronze in Moscow there's no reason to think Maeda couldn't pull it off too.  The main question is whether she will try as top 8 is a relatively low-hanging fruit in the marathon.  The last time a Japanese woman didn't make the top 8 at the World Championships was 1995, and with Maeda ranked 9th on qualifying time she may well focus on making the Olympics instead of risking a shot at a medal.  At least Ito is likely to follow suit.
  5. Men's 5000 m: Japan's medal chances peter out with the women's marathon, but the 5000 m features newly-crowned national record holder Suguru Osako and 2015 national champion Kota Murayama, and at least the Alberto Salazar-trained Osako looks to have a shot at making the top 10.  Osako's 13:08.40 NR puts him at 11th by qualifying time and he'll no doubt be looking to join his Nike Oregon Project training partners a little higher up in the field than that, with the top 8 and a place in Rio dangling just beyond.  Murayama ran an all-time Japanese #8 13:19.62 in May and outkicked Osako for the win at Nationals in June, but he'll need another jump in quality to factor into the final.
  6. Men's Marathon: After running an all-time Japanese 6th-best 2:07:39 in Tokyo in February Masato Imai, coached by Barcelona Olympics silver medalist Koichi Morishita, looked like a lock for a top 8 finish and a place on the Rio Olympic team, but a recent illness is keeping him home from Beijing.  With no alternate lined up Japan will field only two men, Moscow team veterans Masakazu Fujiwara and Kazuhiro Maeda.  Collegiate and debut marathon national record holder Fujiwara's 2:09:06 in Fukuoka last December ranks him 12th in the field on qualifying time.  2:08:00 man Maeda, all-time Japanese #14, is much further down the field with only a 2:11:46 at Lake Biwa in March.  As such, Fujiwara, all-time Japanese #18, looks like the better bet to make the top 8 and the Rio team, but along with the likes of defending gold medalist Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda and current and former world record holders Dennis Kimetto and Wilson Kipsang of Kenya, they will have to deal with the top non-African in the race, Mongolia's Ser-Od Bat-Ochir who beat Fujiwara in Fukuoka and Maeda at Lake Biwa.
  7. Women's 10000 m: The Japanese women's 10000 m team is comparatively the weakest of its distance squads, with no women ranked in the all-time Japanese top 25 and none in the top 10 in the field, but they're not far. Yuka Takashima is the fastest of the three at 31:37.32, with Rei Ohara, the other runner involved in the fall with marathoner Maeda in Nagoya last March, running a do-or-die PB of 31:48.31 in mid-July to make the team and national champion Kasumi Nishihara rounding it out.  All three would need big PBs to make the top 10, but each looks to still have room to grow, especially Ohara.
  8. Men's 200 m: The Usain Bolt record-smashing 2015 World Youth Games gold medalist Abdul Hakim Sani Brown will be drawing most of the media attention, but at just 16 it will be a big achievement if he can make even the semi-final against genuine big boy competition.  Kenji Fujimitsu and Kei Takase will be going for a place in the final, where they would be likely to face not only Bolt but convicted American dopers Justin Gatlin and Wallace Spearmon.  A repeat of Shingo Suetsugu's 2003 bronze medal doesn't look likely, but even one Japanese athlete making the final and guaranteeing himself a place in Rio would be a good sign of forward motion.
  9. Men's 10000 m: In absolute terms, the best 10000 m squad Japan has ever fielded at the world level.  National champion Tetsuya Yoroizaka is ranked all-time Japanese #5 at 27:38.99, Kenta Murayama, the twin brother of 5000 m national champion Kota, #6 at 27:39.95 and Yuta Shitara, also a twin, #12 at 27:42.71.  A top 10 finish by any of them would be a major breakthrough, but with Yoroizaka having also qualified for the 5000 m and opting to run only the 10000 m there's hope that he is going to bring something special.  Fans will be filling up Tokyo sports bars to watch the trio run on the first day of the World Championships, also cheering on Japan-based Kenyans Paul Tanui and Bedan Karoki as they try to topple defending champion Mo Farah and training partner Galen Rupp.
  10. Women's 5000 m: Another solid team by Japanese standards, featuring all-time Japanese #12 Ayuko Suzuki, #17 Misaki Onishi, and #20 Azusa Sumi.  Onishi is the two-time defending national champion, while Suzuki and Sumi are two of the most high-potential young women runners in Japan.  Just 18, Sumi's come-from-behind PB run for 2nd over Suzuki was one of the highlights at June's National Championships, and her follow-up PB to crack the Beijing qualifying standard in July marked her as a name to definitely remember.  Top 10 looks out of reach for all of them on paper, but with all three still improving they should move up the ranks if they bring their best.

15th IAAF World Championships
Beijing, China, August 22-30, 2015
click here for complete timetable
click here for complete entry lists
rankings are by best time within relevant qualification window

Men's Marathon - Aug. 22 a.m.
Dennis Kimetto (Kenya) - 2:02:57
Wilson Kipsang (Kenya) - 2:04:29
Berhanu Lemi (Ethiopia) - 2:05:28
Mark Korir (Kenya) - 2:05:49
Lelisa Desisa (Ethiopia) - 2:05:52
Stephen Kiprotich (Uganda) - 2:06:33
Shumi Dechasa (Bahrain) - 2:06:43
Yemane Tsegay (Ethiopia) - 2:06:51
Ghirmay Ghebreslassie (Eritrea) - 2:07:47
Amanuel Mesel (Eritrea) - 2:08:18
-----
Ser-Od Bat-Ochir (Mongolia) - 2:08:50
Masakazu Fujiwara (Japan) - 2:09:06
Kazuhiro Maeda (Japan) - 2:11:46
Ali Hasan Mahbood (Bahrain) - 2:12:38

Men's 10000 m - Aug. 22 p.m.
Galen Rupp (U.S.A.) - 26:44.36
Paul Tanui (Kenya) - 26:49.41
Mo Farah (Great Britain) - 26:50.97
Bedan Karoki (Kenya) - 26:52.36
Geoffrey Kamworor (Kenya) - 26:52.65
Cam Levins (Canada) - 27:07.51
Muktar Edris (Ethiopia) - 27:17.18
Imane Merga (Ethiopia) - 27:17.63
Mosinet Geremew (Ethiopia) - 27:18.86
Ali Kaya (Turkey) - 27:24.09
-----
Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Japan) - 27:38.99
Kenta Murayama (Japan) - 27:39.95
Yuta Shitara (Japan) - 27:42.71

Men's 20 km Race Walk - Aug. 23
Yusuke Suzuki (Japan) -  1:16:36 - WR
Zhen Wang (China) - 1:18:00
Eiki Takahashi (Japan) - 1:18:03
Ruslan Dmytrenko (Ukraine) - 1:18:37
Ding Chen (China) - 1:18:44
Zelin Cai (China) - 1:18:52
Isamu Fujisawa (Japan) - 1:19:08
Hyunsub Kim (South Korea) - 1:19:13
Miguel Angel Lopez (Spain) - 1:19:21
Ivan Losev (Ukraine) - 1:19:33

Women's 10000 m - Aug. 24
Sally Kipyego (Kenya) - 30:42.26
Molly Huddle (U.S.A.) - 30:47.59
Gelete Burka (Ethiopia) - 30:49.68
Alemitu Heroye (Ethiopia) - 30:50.83
Belaynesh Oljira (Ethiopia) - 30:53.69
Mamitu Daska (Ethiopia) - 30:55.56
Betsy Saina (Kenya) - 30:57.30
Shalane Flanagan (U.S.A.) - 31:09.02
Sara Moreira (Portugal) - 31:12.93
Vivian Cheruiyot (Kenya) - 31:13.29
-----
Yuka Takashima (Japan) - 31:37.32
Rei Ohara (Japan) - 31:48.31
Kasumi Nishihara (Japan) - 31:53.69

Men's 200 m - Heat: Aug. 25 - Semifinals: Aug. 26 - Final: Aug. 27
Justin Gatlin (U.S.A.) - 19.57
Rasheed Dwyer (Jamaica) - 19.80
Alonso Edward (Panama) - 19.90
Isiah Young (U.S.A.) - 19.93
Roberto Skyers (Cuba) - 20.02
Wallace Spearmon (U.S.A.) - 20.03
Julian Forte (Jamaica) - 20.04
Anaso Jobodwana (South Africa) - 20.04
Miguel Francis (Antigua) - 20.05
Zharnel Hughes (Great Britain) - 20.05
-----
Usain Bolt (Jamaica) - 20.13
Kenji Fujimitsu (Japan) - 20.13
Kei Takase (Japan) - 20.14
Abdul Hakim Sani Brown (Japan) - 20.34

Men's 5000 m - Heats: Aug. 26 - Final: Aug. 29
Yomif Kejelcha (Ethiopia) - 12:58.39
Hagos Gebrhiwet (Ethiopia) - 12:58.69
Imane Merga (Ethiopia) - 12:59.04
Ali Kaya (Turkey) - 13:00.31
Dejen Gebremeskel (Ethiopia) - 13:00.49
Illias Fifa (Spain) - 13:05.61
Bashir Abdi (Belgium) - 13:06.10
Ben True (U.S.A.) - 13:06.15
Albert Rop (Bahrain) - 13:06.74
Isian Koech (Kenya) - 13:07.33
-----
Suguru Osako (Japan) - 13:08.40 - NR
Mo Farah (Great Britain) - 13:11.77
Edwin Soi (Kenya) - 13:11.97
Galen Rupp (U.S.A.) - 13:12.36
Kota Murayama (Japan) - 13:19.62
Caleb Ndiku (Kenya) - 13:32.35

Women's 5000 m - Heats: Aug. 27 - Final: Aug. 30
Almaz Ayana (Ethiopia) - 14:14.32
Genzebe Dibaba (Ethiopia) - 14:15.41
Meseret Defar (Ethiopia) -14:32.83 (2013)
Mercy Cherono (Kenya) - 14:34.10
Violet Kibiwot (Kenya) - 14:34.22
Senbere Teferi (Ethiopia) - 14:36.44
Irene Cheptai (Kenya) - 14:53.32
Mimi Belete (Bahrain) - 14:54.71
Goytom Gebreslase (Ethiopia) - 14:57.33
Abbey D'Agostino (U.S.A.) - 15:03.85
-----
Azuko Suzuki (Japan) - 15:14.96
Misaki Onishi (Japan) - 15:16.82
Azusa Sumi (Japan) - 15:17.62

Men's 50 km Race Walk - Aug. 29
Matej Toth (Slovakia) - 3:34:38
Takayuki Tanii (Japan) - 3:40:19
Hirooki Arai (Japan) - 3:40:20
Aleksandr Yargunkin (Russia) - 3:42:26
Jared Tallent (Australia) - 3:42:48
Yuki Yamazaki (Japan) - 3:43:40
Rafel Augustyn (Poland) - 3:43:55
Ivan Banzeruk (Ukraine) - 3:44:49
Lukasz Nowak (Poland) - 3:44:53
Marco De Luca (Italy) - 3:45:25

Men's 4x100 m Relay - Heats: Aug. 29 a.m. - Final: Aug. 29 p.m.
U.S.A. - 37.38
Jamaica - 37.68
China - 37.99
Antigua & Barbuda - 38.14
Japan - 38.20
Great Britain - 38.21
Trinidad and Tobago - 38.32
Canada - 38.33
France - 38.34
Germany - 38.48

Women's Marathon - Aug. 30
Mare Dibaba (Ethiopia) - 2:19:52
Tirfi Tsegaye (Ethiopia) - 2:20:18
Edna Kiplagat (Kenya) - 2:20:21
Jemima Sumgong (Kenya) - 2:20:41a
Tigist Tufa (Ethiopia) - 2:21:52
Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain) - 2:22:08
Mariya Konovalova (Russia) - 2:22:27
Berhane Dibaba (Ethiopia) - 2:22:30
Sairi Maeda (Japan) - 2:22:48
Helah Kiprop (Kenya) - 2:24:03
-----
Mai Ito (Japan) - 2:24:42
Risa Shigetomo (Japan) - 2:26:39

(c) 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Monday, August 17, 2015

Kawauchi Leads 700 Runners Through Nosappu Misaki Half Marathon

http://dd.hokkaido-np.co.jp/news/area/doto/1-0169494.html

 translated by Brett Larner

On Aug. 16 the 34th running of the Hoppo Ryodo Nosappu Misaki Half Marathon took place along the Pacific coastal highways of far northeastern Hokkaido.  Blessed with perfect weather, over 700 runners gave it their best with encouraging cheers from local residents crowding the roadside. 

The race featured three distances, the main half marathon as well as 10 km and 3.7 km races, with participation numbers increasing year by year.  Last year's winner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) returned to run as part of the masses, finishing 1st in 1:07:01.  "I have the Rio Olympics and London World Championships coming up," he said, "so I won't be able to run this race next year or the year after that.  But I will definitely be back three years from now!"

Half marathon senior division runner-up Seiji Okabe, 61, laughed as he commented, "I've run here every year since the first one.  The air was crisp, not hot, so it was comfortable to run.  But I'm looking forward to hopping in the bath and soaking my tired muscles!"

'Touru Miyahara Captures Pikes Peak Ascent After Andy Wacker Leads Them Astray'

http://gazette.com/touru-miyahara-captures-pikes-peak-ascent-after-andy-wacker-leads-them-astray/article/1557459

Friday, August 14, 2015

Temporary Track Still Planned for New Olympic Stadium - "No Land Nearby"

http://www.nikkansports.com/general/news/1522682.html

translated by Brett Larner

Despite strong demands from JAAF officials for a permanent sub-track to be included in forthcoming revised plans for the New National Stadium that will be the flagship venue of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, on Aug. 13 it was confirmed that only a temporary sub-track will be built.

On July 29 JAAF officials including chairman Hiroshi Yokokawa and executive board member Naoko Takahashi visited Olympic Games Committee executive Toshiaki Endo to confirm the status of the plans for a sub-track and stress the importance of a permanent one from a former athlete's point of view.  However, multiple government officials told them that there were no plans for a permanent sub-track, saying, "There is no land nearby [for a permanent sub-track], so there is no chance but to stick with the original plans for a temporary sub-track."

Without a permanent sub-track the new stadium will not be able to be used to host either international events like the World Championships or national-level events like the National Sports Festival, National High School Championships and National Junior High School Championships.  Takahashi commented, "Not being able to hold the National Sports Festival or High School Nationals after the Olympics is a fatal mistake."

On Aug. 14 the government is hosting a ministerial meeting chaired by Endo to finalize the essential policies for the revised New National Stadium plans.  Although the sub-track is not yet referred to as "temporary" therein, it is expected to be labeled as such in the revised construction budget plans to be released later this month.  The temporary track is likely to be built inside the grounds of a nearby softball facility.

Translator's note: Largely as a consequence of the major running boom in Japan since 2007 brought about by the Tokyo Marathon, itself originally conceived of as a way to demonstrate that Tokyo was competent to host a modern Olympics, there is a major shortage of public track facilities in central Tokyo.  The lone 8-lane, 400 m track regularly accessible to the public, Shibuya's Oda Field, has undergone increasingly frequent resurfacing due to the increased traffic and the resulting wear-and-tear and is said to be scheduled to be closed for another round of resurfacing from this October through next March, leaving the countless running clubs and independents from amateur to pro, junior high school to corporate national champions, who use it with few to no options for relocating their regular workouts.  Beyond the JAAF's apparent concern exclusively about the consequences for its ability to stage elite events, with such enormous demand for more public facilities it is absolutely irresponsible for the Tokyo Olympic Committee to not take the steps necessary to ensure that the healthy fitness-oriented lifestyle enjoyed by countless thousands of Tokyo residents remains as a key legacy of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

'Suntory Pulls Promotional Bags Bearing Designs of Tokyo Olympics Emblem Creator'

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/08/13/national/suntory-pulls-promotional-bags-bearing-designs-tokyo-olympics-emblem-creator/#.Vc0g9L8pKw2

In his defense of his Tokyo Olympics logo design last week, Kenjiro Sano stressed that the design was "something made starting from zero" and that "as an art director I have never ripped anything off."  While some of the comparisons below are pretty doubtful at best, a few clearly make use of pre-existing images and one, the swimmer and shadow, looks undeniably like a copy of the original's style.  Their withdrawal from the Suntory promo campaign is a major blow to the credibility of Sano's Tokyo logo defense.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

18 Teams Set to Run Second Edition of Nikko Irohazaka Women's Ekiden

http://www.shimotsuke.co.jp/news/tochigi/sports/general/news/20150813/2050831

translated by Brett Larner

As part of its mission to make the tourist town of Nikko a "runner's paradise," on Aug. 12 the organizing committee of the Nikko Irohazaka Women's Ekiden released the list of teams scheduled to run the event's second running on Nov. 29.  18 teams from 16 universities in the Kanto and Kansai regions will take part, an increase of 4 teams over last year's inaugural edition.

After starting at Nikko Daiyagawa Park, the 6-stage uphill course covers 23.4 km from the historic area of Nikko up the steep slopes of Irohazaka to finish at Nikko Futarasan shrine.  Last year Tokyo Nogyo University became the event's first champions.  This year they return along with rivals Daito Bunka University, a Tokyo University alumni team, and first-timers Nihon University, Nihon Joshi University, Nihon Joshi Taiiku University and Nittai University.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Hokkaido Marathon Elite Field

by Brett Larner

This year's 29th edition of the Hokkaido Marathon features an all-Japanese invited elite field led by sub-2:11 men Hideaki Tamura (Team JR Higashi Nihon) and Ryosuke Fukuyama (Team Honda) and 2011 World Championships marathoner and defending women's champion Azusa Nojiri (Hiratsuka Lease).  The race will take place simultaneously with the Beijing World Championships women's marathon.

Hokkaido Marathon
Sapporo, Hokkaido, 8/30/15
click here for detailed field listing

Men
Hideaki Tamura (JR Higashi Nihon) - 2:10:54 (Biwako 2013)
Ryosuke Fukuyama (Honda) - 2:10:59 (Biwako 2013)
Tomohiro Tanigawa (Konica Minolta) - 2:11:39 (Nagano 2015)
Ryoichi Matsuo (Asahi Kasei) - 2:12:11 (Nobeoka 2014)
Tatsunari Hirayama (Yasukawa Denki) - 2:12:38 (Nobeoka 2013)
Yu Chiba (Honda) - 2:13:19 (Beppu-Oita 2013)

Women
Azusa Nojiri (Hiratsuka Lease) - 2:24:57 (Osaka Women's 2012)
Chieko Kido (Canon AC Kyushu) - 2:29:08 (Osaka Women's 2015)
Aki Odagiri (Tenmaya) - 2:30:24 (Nagoya Women's 2015)
Asami Furuse (Kyocera) - 2:30:57 (Nagoya Women's 2013)
Yuka Takemoto (Canon AC Kyushu) - 2:31:02 (Kitakyushu 2014)
Yuko Mizuguchi (Denso) - 2:31:39 (Nagoya Women's 2014)
Yukiko Okuno (Shiseido) - 2:32:41 (Osaka Women's 2015)
Kana Orino (Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 2:33:51 (Nagoya Women's 2014)
Megumi Amako (Canon AC Kyushu) - 2:34:28 (Seoul International 2015)
Saki Tabata (Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:34:35 (Nagoya Women's 2015)

(c) 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

'Track & Field Announces Full Incoming Class: Golden Bears Bring In One Of The Nation's Top Classes'

http://www.calbears.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=30100&ATCLID=210260815

UC Berkeley recruits Koku Gakuin Prep Kugayama H.S. grad Takeshi Okada for its distance squad, a rare example of a good Japanese high schooler going to a U.S. program.  His twin brother Nozomu Okada runs for Waseda University, one of Japan's top running schools.  The pair's progress through the two systems should be interesting to follow in coming years.  Thanks to Dan Lilot for the link.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Tokyo Olympics Update: Prime Minister Abe's Party Proposes Not Building a New Stadium, A Demand For A Date Change to Autumn, and Takahashi Calling Current Plan a Fatal Mistake

translated and edited by Brett Larner
source articles linked within text

With just 1809 days left until the start of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics there are at least that many opinions floating around the Japanese media on what to do about the Olympic Stadium and other problems surrounding the Tokyo Olympics.  A sample of weekend articles:

Takahashi Calls for Permanent Sub-Track at Olympic Stadium
2000 Sydney Olympics women's marathon gold medalist and former world record holder Naoko Takahashi, a member of the JOC and JAAF executive committees as well as serving on the Tokyo Olympic Games Organizing Committee Athletes' Commission, appealed directly to the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee's Toshiaki Endo to stress the importance of having a permanent sub-track in the new stadium plans, calling the recent announcement that only a temporary sub-track would be included a "fatal" mistake as it would preempt the stadium being used for future international or national-level competitions.  Takahashi denied that it is not possible to build a permanent sub-track in the area of the planned New National Stadium.

Prime Minister Abe's Ruling Political Party Proposes Not Building New Olympic Stadium
The ruling Jiminto Party led by conservative nationalist prime minister Shinzo Abe issued its position presenting alternatives to building a new stadium capable of staging track and field, soccer and opening and closing ceremonies.  Among them:
  • The "Zero Option" - Use existing facilities without building a new stadium.  Tokyo's Komazawa Stadium could be upgraded to meet Olympic standards for hosting track and field events, or track and field could be hosted at neighboring Yokohama's Nissan Stadium which is already up to code.  Soccer could be staged at Nissan Stadium, Tokyo's Ajinomoto Stadium, Saitama Stadium and other existing facilities.  Olympic standards call for a 60,000-seat stadium for the opening and closing ceremonies, but the proposal called for "new-format ceremonies that escape the confines of the stadium space," such as building temporary stands outside the front entrance of the Imperial Palace to make use of its wide and historic space, IOC permitting.
  • Build a new stadium with a more focused use seating the minimum 60,000.  The stadium would be used for track and field and soccer and would include a roof and temporary sub-track.  The report called the building of a permanent sub-track at the planned site of the new stadium "difficult" due to the lack of available land and said that the 80,000-seat stadium called for by the JFA was simply unnecessary in Japan.
  • Build a new stadium seating 60,000 for use in the opening and closing ceremonies and for soccer, with track and field moving to Komazawa Stadium where the building of a permanent sub-track would be "a suitable component of Tokyo's Olympic legacy."  The report said that a 30,000-seat stadium would be sufficient for track and field and that should Tokyo host a future World Championships a 60,000-seat stadium would be unnecessarily large.
  • The proposal also suggested three different possible courses of public-private sphere cooperation in building and operating the stadium before, during and after the Olympics without using public tax money.  The best use of the stadium would be chosen to maximize revenue post-Olympics, whether dedicating it to baseball or soccer or keeping it for mixed track and field and soccer use.

Former Wrestler Calls for Tokyo Olympics to Be Moved to Autumn After Tokyo Heat Wave"
Amid a record-setting heat wave in Tokyo at exactly the time the 2020 Tokyo Olympics are to be held, at an international conference on safety former wrestler and popular personality Antonio Inoki publicly called for the dates of the Tokyo Olympics to be changed, saying that there was "gross negligence" in the Bid Committee's proposal to the IOC.  Inoki objected specifically to language in the proposal that claimed that from July 24 through August 9 in Tokyo, "There are many sunny days, and because it is warm it is the ideal climate for athletes to perform up to their best."  "What kind of crazy BS is that?"  Inoki said.  "Today the government issued a statement saying, 'Please do not go outside today.'  How do conditions like that help athletes perform their best?  In this kind of goddamn heat we're not talking about 'Faster, Higher, Stronger,' we're talking about human lives."

Fearing for the safety of marathoners, race walkers and wheelchair athletes and citing the precedent that the 1964 Tokyo Olympics were held in October, Inoki said that the Olympics must be moved to September or later.  The IOC has indicated that a date change is possible, but Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology official Hokubun Shimomura stated that, "The dates have been set in accordance with those of other international competitions held in July and August," and that a special commission on heat measures in May had determined that "heat-suppressing road pavement technology" and "dry mist blowers" would be sufficient to combat the effects of the heat.  Inoki pulled no punches as he responded, "If that's the case then why don't you go out and try running, Mr. Big Shot?  I'll get your shoes and running shirt ready.  It's because of fools who don't know what they're talking about and money-sucking leeches that we're in this situation.  You don't want to move it to the fall because then it would conflict with baseball and football broadcasts in the United States.  If you can change the stadium, you can change the dates."

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Yakult Scores First Towada Hachimantai Ekiden Title

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/local/akita/news/20150807-OYTNT50234.html

translated by Brett Larner

Carrying the tasuki over five stages covering 73.7 km from Lake Towada to Hachimantai, the 68th running of the Towada Hachimantai Ekiden took place August 7 in Akita prefecture, with the Yakult A team from Tokyo scoring its first win in 3:45:46, the sixth-fastest time in the event's history.  The top team from Akita, the Akita Track and Field Association team, finished 13th, three places better than last year.  The local Kazuno Track and Field Association team was 20th of 27 teams overall.

The race began at 8:00 at Lake Towada in Towada, Aomori.  Running on a tough course featuring 818 m total elevation difference made all the tougher by blistering sunshine under cloudless skies, many athletes collapsed after finishing their stages.  Charles Ndungu (Team Komori Corp.) ran a new stage record of 39:49 on the hilly 13.6 First Stage to open a lead of over one minute over his closest competition.  London Olympics marathoner Arata Fujiwara (Arata Project) also ran well, finishing the opening stage 5th in 41:18.

Another stage record came on the mostly downhill 13.4 km Second Stage where Bernard Kimani (Team Yakult A) overtook leader Yoshihiro Nishizawa (Team Komori Corp.) 5 km into the leg on his way to an impressive 35:24 time that put the Yakult A team 1 1/2 minutes into the lead.  The sunshine became an issue on the 16.2 km Third Stage, where despite running against strong foreign competition Yakult rookie Ryu Takaku finished 2nd on the stage but maintained the lead, putting the Yakult A team into a good flow for the rest of the race.

With a stage win over 2014 Asian Games marathon bronze medalist Yuki Kawauchi (K Project) on the 16.4 km Fourth Stage from Soji Ikeda and a controlled run from Masahiro Kawaguchi on the 575 m uphill 14.1 km Fifth Stage Yakult A's ultimate margin of victory over runner-up Komori Corporation was nearly four minutes.  The Tamagawa AC team coached by national champion Komazawa University head coach Hiroaki Oyagi placed 3rd overall, with anchor Shohei Otsuka beating Yakult's Kawaguchi by nearly a minute and a half for the stage title in 49:42.

Five teams from Akita prefecture ran, placing 13th, 20th, 22nd, 23rd and 24th out of 27 teams.  Former 5000 m national record holder Takayuki Matsumiya was a DNS for the Kazuno team, but Hanawa H.S. graduate Tenta Koitabashi put in a good run to finish 7th on the Third Stage.

68th Towada Hachimantai Ekiden
Kazuno, Akita, 8/7/15
27 teams, 5 stages, 73.7 km
click here for complete results

Overall Results
1. Yakult A - 3:45:46
2. Komori Corporation - 3:49:39
3. Tamagawa AC - 3:50:29
4. JR Higashi Nihon - 3:51:44
5. K Project - 3:52:14

First Stage (13.6 km)
1. Charles Ndungu (Kenya/Komori Corp.) - 39:49 - CR
2. Yuki Takamiya (Yakult A) - 40:52
3. Ryo Hashimoto (Tamagawa AC) - 40:56
-----
5. Arata Fujiwara (Arata Project) - 41:18

Second Stage (13.4 km, downhill)
1. Bernard Kimani (Kenya/Yakult A) - 35:24 - CR
2. Kassa Mekashaw (Ethiopia/Yachiyo Kogyo) - 36:32
3. David Njuguna (Kenya/Yakult B) - 36:58

Third Stage (16.2 km)
1. Alexander Mutiso (Kenya/ND Software) - 46:31
2. Ryu Takaku (Yakult A) - 47:21
3. Cyrus Njui (Kenya/K Project) - 47:38

Fourth Stage (16.4 km)
1. Shoya Kurokawa (JR Higashi Nihon) - 50:30
2. Soji Ikeda (Yakult A) - 50:59
3. Keita Akiba (Komori Corp.) - 51:02
-----
6. Yuki Kawauchi (K Project) - 51:32

Fifth Stage (14.1 km, uphill)
1. Shohei Otsuka (Tamagawa AC) - 49:42
2. Masahiro Kawaguchi (Yakult A) - 51:02
3. Sho Matsumoto (K Project) - 51:14

Friday, August 7, 2015

Kenta and Kota Murayama - Amino Acid Supplements a Vital Partner in Building Stronger Bodies

http://number.bunshun.jp/articles/-/823811

by Takaomi Matsubara
translated and edited by Brett Larner

Kenta and Kota Murayama were born Feb. 23, 1993 in Miyagi prefecture.  After graduating from Meisei High School Kenta went to Komazawa University, where he played a major role in the team winning four-straight National University Ekiden titles, while Kota went to Josai University where he was coached by one hour run national record holder Seiji Kushibe.  As students both brothers had strong records of achievement outside the ekiden, Kenta breaking the Japanese university student half marathon record in 2014 with a PB of 1:00:50 and going on to run for the Japanese national team at the 2014 World Half Marathon Championships, and Kota running for the Japanese national team at the 2014 Asian Games where he ran a PB to place 5th in the 5000 m close behind four African-born athletes.  After their graduation this spring both twins joined the Asahi Kasei corporate team.  Both will run on the Japanese national team at the Beijing World Championships later this month, Kenta in the 10000 m and Kota in the 5000 m.  This article is part of a series published by Sports Graphic Number Web on top Japanese athletes in different sports talking about their use of amino acid supplements.


As university students they competed for different schools.  This spring Japan's top twins reunited on one of the country's most prestigious corporate teams.  Together they will target the best in the world.  Supporting that kind of high-ambition running requires impeccable awareness and condition management.

An outstanding performance record from middle distance to ekidens to long distance and experience running for Japan in international competitions.  Surpassing the boundaries of student athletics to claim the position of the brightest hopes for the future of Japanese distance running, the twin brothers Kenta and Kota Murayama.

The twins spent their university lives apart, Kenta at National Champion powerhouse Komazawa University and Kota at Josai University, before their graduation this spring brought them back together at the Asahi Kasei corporate team.  "In the past we thought of each other as rivals, but we don't feel that way so much right now," says Kenta.  Starting off their corporate lives as teammates, the twins share a common blueprint and goal: to compete together on the Japanese national team in the marathon at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

"I want both of us to be there together, to show our strengths against the best in the world, and to deliver runs that'll leave people saying, 'Well done, that was incredible,'" says Kenta of the pair's dream.  "I have a rough image in my mind of what it'll be like when we're in the race," elaborates Kota.  "We'll both be on the attack right from the start, and when it comes to the end it'll just be the two of us competing for the win.  If we both make the team, we'll be the first ones since the Sohs, won't we?  That's not something that happens every day, is it?"

The "Sohs" are twins Shigeru and Takeshi Soh, the Murayama twins' predecessors at Asahi Kasei with long careers at the national level including making the 1980 and 1984 Olympic teams together in the marathon.  Since joining Asahi Kasei the Murayama twins have received advice from the Sohs, who told them, "If you build a strong body when you are young then you can have long careers as athletes like we did."  Already having a wide range of experience, the young brothers aiming to become world-class have become aware of the importance of properly building the body, and with the Sohs' advice they are paying more attention than ever to the details.  And with a tough day-to-day schedule, they need to.

"Our days are kind of like this," says Kota.  "In the mornings we more or less get up at 5:30 and at 6:10 we start off with exercises [core work and strength training].  After that there's group practice.  After work we have practice again in the evening."  That kind of routine is why Kota came to put a heavy emphasis on the importance of conditioning.  "The nutrition element has been important every since college, but my coaches there really did their homework with regard to amino acids.  That's why I started to take amino acid supplements.  Taking them before bed you feel great the next morning.  All the fatigue from the day before is reset to zero and you get used to feeling like, 'OK, I'm ready to work again today!'  So, I continue to use them now."


Kenta became aware of the existence of amino acid supplements after reuniting with Kota post-graduation and seeing the products his brother had.  "'Whoa, what's all this?' I thought at first," he says.  "Kota taught me about them as I tried them.  Then, just like he said, the amount of fatigue I felt started to change.  Now I take them before and after workouts and before going to bed."

Under his brother's influence, since starting to incorporate amino acids into his regimen after joining the corporate leagues Kenta was the top Japanese man at 2nd overall in April's Hyogo Relay Carnival 10000 m before going on to run a meet record 27:39.95 to win May's Golden Games in Nobeoka 10000 m, the sixth-fastest time ever by a Japanese man.  At the same meet Kota was the only Japanese man in the otherwise all-African 5000 m C-heat but took 2nd overall in 13:19.62, at the time likewise the sixth-best Japanese time ever, and went on to win the 5000 m at June's National Championships.

The pair has been delivering the results, and on the strength of those results both were named to the Japanese National Team for August's Beijing World Championships.  But as big as that goal is, they are already looking beyond it.  "My focus is the World Championships," says Kenta, "but I'm working on developing my stamina so that by winter I'll be in a position to be able to take on the marathon."  Kota adds, "I feel like I want to follow the same route as Kenta and go after the marathon.  Building stamina for that is important too, but more than anything the most important thing is to avoid getting hurt so you are able to put in uninterrupted training."

At the World Championships team announcement press conference Kota said the following:
"From here on out I want it to be said that this is the era of the Murayama Twins."
To surpass their legendary Asahi Kasei predecessors.  To the day when they become top-level marathoners.  Running toward destiny and hopes for the future, the twins both recognize the important role amino acids will play in helping them achieve their dreams.  "To us," they say, "they will continue to be an absolute necessity."

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Speed is the Key for Developing Stronger Distance Runners - 5000 m National Champion Kota Murayama's Josai University Coach Seiji Kushibe

http://sports.yahoo.co.jp/sports/athletic/all/2015/columndtl/201507270006-spnavi?page=1

translated and edited by Brett Larner
videos by toyosina2008 and botwinner



When Kota Murayama (Team Asahi Kasei), who won the men's 5000 m at June's National Championships, graduated from Josai University this spring, he left with these words: "Looking back on my four years of university, the thing I'm most proud of is running 3:39.56 my senior year.  When I entered university my goal was to run 3:45, so I never imagined I'd run in the 3:30s.  It makes me really happy to have gotten faster than I expected of myself."  Murayama's 3:39.56 was the fastest Japanese men's time last year and the first time in three years that a Japanese runner had broken 3:40.

With the 5000 m as his main focus, Murayama's view that the 1500 m was just something to help him get stronger never faltered, but given that he calls his 1500 m result "the thing I'm most proud of in the last four years," it reaffirms Murayama's strong commitment to speed ever since high school.  And coming from that, exactly as planned, this spring in his first pro season he made a great leap forward in the 5000 m, landing a place on the Japanese National Team for August's Beijing World Championships.

But Josai University's focus on developing strength in the 1500 m is not limited to just Murayama.  It is the team policy and a key feature of head coach Seiji Kushibe's leadership.  Tokai University's Nanami Arai won the 1500 m at this year's National Championships but four Josai runners also qualified and ran, not just more than any other university but more than any single corporate team.  In a university circuit focused on long distance you could say that Josai forms a unique and distinctive presence.

"Ekidens get a lot of coverage, but athletics is ultimately an individual sport," says Kushibe, the one-hour run Japanese national record holder.  "My basic way of thinking is that from 1500 m to the half marathon I want each athlete to develop and show what they've got in the event that best brings out their abilities.  I myself like the 1500 m a lot and believe that developing speed there will serve as a powerful weapon, which is why we are actively focusing on that distance."

The intensity of Kushibe's training is based on exercise physiology.  Kushibe lectures on exercise physiology at Josai, and his training programs incorporate a large quantity of objective data and are established based on determinations of athletes' muscular characteristics and cardiopulmonary capabilities.  "My coaching is very textbook, I think," says Kushibe.  "If it is conducted based on the results of exercise physiology research and in terms of exercise intensity, the net outcome will always be improvement.  Rather than relying solely on experience, I always want to go back to the fundamentals."


In most cases even in long distance events, sprint capability over the last 400 m divides the winners from the losers, and that is why speed forms a potent weapon according to Kushibe.  As with Murayama's win over the Alberto Salazar-coached Suguru Osako (Nike Oregon Project) at this year's National Championships, being able to deliver explosive speed at the end of the race is an absolute advantage in winning races.  "[Toshihiko] Seko used to win marathons with a last spurt on the track," says Kushibe of his former coach, now head coach at the DeNA corporate team.  "What I'm looking for is strength rather than just getting faster.  My goal is to develop stronger athletes who can represent Japan at the world level.  With that point of view I am committed to the 1500 m as a focus in training to improving the speed component."

In addition to improving speed, in recent years Kushibe has also introduced a new initiative, low-oxygen training.  His own years as an athlete from the 90s through the early 2000s overlapped with the years in which Kenyans and Ethiopians emerged to dominate the marathon.  Fascinated by their strength, in addition to his running Kushibe took an interest in the high-altitude research being done at Waseda's Department of Human Sciences.  In the later years of his career he studied altitude training methodology professionally at the Nittai University Graduate School.  As a researcher as well as a coach, his interest in altitude goes right to his roots.

"In both the marathon and on the track, in every long distance event the world's best athletes mostly come from high altitude locations in East Africa," Kushibe says.  "In order to be able to compete with them it is necessary to increase cardiopulmonary function by training in a similar environment.  For that purpose I have introduced low-oxygen training.  By putting yourself in an environment with a low concentration of oxygen you can aim to get similar effects without actually going to high altitude.  It doesn't suit every athlete's constitution and even for those who can handle it, it is very difficult to evaluate the effects and changes in physical condition, so it requires constant management.  That's not something that just anybody can do, but when everything is under control the effects are overwhelming."

Murayama won the National Championships 5000 m in June, but just a few weeks later a revolution came in the same event.  At the Night of Athletics meet in Heusden-Zolder, Belgium, National Championships runner-up Osako ran 13:08.40, a national record by nearly 5 seconds.  Murayama's teammate and 10000 m national champion Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Team Asahi Kasei) also broke the national record, running 13:12.63.  After a long period of immobility the hands of the Japanese men's long distance clock have begun to move again, and Kushibe believes that it is entirely possible that we will see more records soon.

"If you want to talk about improving the speed component, the methods of the Oregon Project to which Osako belongs have produced results," he says.  "There is a lot to be learned from what they are doing and I am certainly examining their work, but here in Japan we also have a fantastic facility, the National Sports Science Center [JISS].  By working together with them I think we can develop more efficient and effective training, and that should lead to more new Japanese national records.  I think Murayama was quite upset that Osako set a new record right after Murayama had beaten him, but he still has room for growth and elements to be improved.  With a good rival like that I think he can achieve the dream of a Japanese 12-minute 5000 m."

The ability Africans show to sustain a high pace on the track and the phenomenal power of their last sprint seems like something from another dimension, another world.  But rather than just giving up because you can't beat them, the task is to figure out what needs to be done to get closer.  Kushibe's motivation is to cultivate athletes with the speed and strength to compete on the same level with the rest of the world.  Incorporating state-of-the-art research and training into his program, he hopes to rise to the challenge.