Skip to main content

JAAF to Fukushi on Nagoya Plans: "Don't Run"

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/1607599.html

translated by Brett Larner

With regard to her entry in the final Rio de Janeiro Olympics women's marathon selection race, the Mar. 13 Nagoya Women's Marathon, on Feb. 21 JAAF Strengthening Committee Chairman Kazunori Asaba, 55, sent a message to Kayoko Fukushi (33, Team Wacoal): "We do not want you to run."

Fukushi won the second Rio selection race, January's Osaka International Women's Marathon, in 2:22:17, one of the fastest times ever run by a Japanese woman, but because the JAAF would not confirm her spot on the Rio team, the next day she indicated that she would run Nagoya as well.  Chairman Asaba seeks to persuade Fukushi that if she hopes to contend for an Olympic medal she should not run Nagoya, but at the same time refuses to change the JAAF's stance that it will not confirm that she is definitely on the Rio team.

Attending the 20 km racewalk national championships in Kobe, Chairman Asaba issued the highly unusual request when he spoke for the first time about Fukushi feeling forced to run in Nagoya despite knowing the risk of injury.  "Fukushi met all of our criteria with a superb, flawless run," he said.  "We do not want her to run Nagoya.  If there were anything we could do to make that happen, we would do it.  She has reached the level of being a medal contender.  If she is going to go for an Olympic medal then we want to see her preparation be rock-solid."

It is very unusual for JAAF executives to touch upon the race plans of individual athletes let alone try to talk someone out of running a race.  Saying both, "Nothing has been decided for certain," and "We can't just stand by and do nothing about this," Asaba showed the first signs of trying to influence Fukushi.

He also admitted the lack of definitive and clear qualification criteria in the Olympic selection guidelines.  Fukushi cleared the JAAF's sub-2:22:30 Olympic qualifying standard in winning Osaka, meaning that realistically she should be a lock for the Olympic team.  However, the JAAF's Olympic selection guidelines do not specify a procedure for what would happen if multiple people cleared the JAAF's Olympic standard, and as a result the JAAF cannot confirm Fukushi's position on the team.

With regard to the possible scenario in which two Olympic team members are chosen from Nagoya after running fast times there, Fukushi's coach Tadayuki Nagayama has stated the problem clearly: "The second Japanese finisher in Nagoya will have lost to the first Japanese finisher.  There is no way it should even be possible that the 2nd-placer in Nagoya could be picked over Fukushi, who won."  Chairman Asaba commented, "I can understand that line of thought," and, admitting that there was a gap in the rules, said, "With the level of Japanese running in mind we set 2:22:30 as the standard.  We did not put anything into place to account for the possibility that more than one athlete might run that time."

But with regard to giving Fukushi a green light Asaba remained unmoved from the JAAF's position.  "That is a difficult area," he said.  "We cannot say that we will choose her for the team.  Other athletes are still going to run Nagoya.  Until all three selection races are finished we cannot do that, but we do want to do everything we can right up to the end of the end."  Just like in politics, even if you are the frontrunner, when it comes down to the rules a lot of things can end up being empty promises.

A timeline of the women's marathon Olympic selection problem:

Jan. 31: Fukushi solos a win at the Osaka International Women's Marathon. Her time of 2:22:17 clears the JAAF's sub-2:22:30 Olympic standard.

Feb. 1: Fukushi's camp indicates she is considering running the Nagoya Women's Marathon.  Coach Nagayama says, "The JAAF hasn't said a word to us about her being on the [Olympic] team."

Feb. 6: At an event the day before the Marugame International Half Marathon, JAAF Strengthening Committee Vice-Chairman Katsumi Sakai says, "We can't say that she will be on the team.  Under the selection guidelines there is a possibility she might not be chosen."

Feb. 8: Coach Nagayama announces that preparations are underway for Fukushi's training for Nagoya, saying, "This is life or death for us.  All we can do is go on the offense."

Feb. 21: JAAF Strengthening Committee Chairman Asaba makes the unusual request for Fukushi not to run Nagoya.

Feb. 25: Announcement of Nagoya Women's Marathon entry list.

Mar. 13: Nagoya Women's Marathon

Mar. 17: JAAF executive council meeting, Olympic team lineup expected to be decided.

Comments

Eryn said…
When I read the below, I just can't stop thinking these guys at JAAF are buffoons : "With the level of Japanese running in mind we set 2:22:30 as the standard. We did not put anything into place to account for the possibility that more than one athlete might run that time."

Why set a target and don't expect than more than one runner would achieve it?

The US Trials are clear cut and clear: top three are in, then substitutes. Tough if you have a bad day. Tough if it is not optimal for top performance in the Olympic, but clear cut for the runners, no politics or back deals.

Let's discuss...
Anonymous said…
Get a clue, JAAF.
runstephane said…
Mar. 18: JAAF decide to not include Fukushi (who has won both Osaka and Nagoya) in the Olympic team because she had disobeyed there 'do not run' statement and therefore "might not be in top shape/her behavior is not in line with the values of the team" (Sakai said) for Olympics.

That said I consider the single race selection (ie US Trials) as the best selection mode: one race, no place for a bad day...but just as the Olympics.

Good luck to Fukushi and thanks Brett for all the work.

Most-Read This Week

Kazami Breaks 100 km World Record at Lake Saroma

Running on the same course where Japan's Takahiro Sunada set the road 100 km world record of 6:13:33 twenty years ago, 2:17:23 marathoner Nao Kazamibested a deep and competitive field to win the Lake Saroma 100 km Ultramarathon in a world record 6:09:14.

Part of a front group of at least five that went through the marathon split in 2:33:36, on pace for 6:04:01, Kazami lost touch with the lead as rivals Koji Hayasaka and Takehiko Gyoba surged just before halfway to open a roughly 30 second lead that lasted until nearly 75 km. But in the last quarter of the race Kazami, a graduate of university ekiden powerhouse Komazawa University, was the only one who could sustain anything close to the early pace, overtaking Hayasaka and Gyoba before pulling away to open a lead of over 11 minutes. Kazami's mark took more than 4 minutes off the world record, and he also bettered the 100 km track world record of 6:10:20 set in 1978 well before he was born by the late Don Ritchie.
Trying to sta…

Boston Marathon Champion Yuki Kawauchi and Olympian Suguru Osako Join 2018 Bank of America Chicago Marathon Elite Field

A Bank of America Chicago Marathon press release

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon announced today that reigning Boston Marathon champion and “citizen runner” Yuki Kawauchi and 2016 Olympian and Nike Oregon Project runner Suguru Osako will join the elite competition as they both seek to become the first Chicago Marathon champion from Japan since Toshihiko Seko took the crown in 1986.

"I'm really happy to have the chance to race in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon and the Abbott World Marathon Majors," Kawauchi said. "I'm looking forward to running the same race where Toshinari Takaoka set the former national record and so many other great Japanese athletes have run well. My results in the other American Abbott World Marathon Majors races, Boston and New York, were pretty good, and I'll do everything I can to line up in Chicago ready to produce good results there too."

“Yuki and Suguru are exciting additions to our elite field,” said Executive Rac…

Kawauchi Wins 7th-Straight Okinoshima 50 km

Running the Okinoshima 50 km Ultramarathon on his late father's home island of Oki for the eighth year in a row, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) ran 2:52:55 to win it for the seventh straight time. Starting strong on the relatively flat first 10 km where he clocked 33:26, low-2:47 pace, Kawauchi slowed to just over 2:50 pace on the course's toughest hills between 10 and 30 km. A sub-2:50 was still in range at that point, but over the last 20 km he faded further to finish in the second-slowest of his Okinoshima wins.



The day before the race Kawauchi paced children in Okinoshima's kids' run. Following that he greeted participants and local supporters at an expo event where he was hailed onstage as the Boston Marathon winner. As per his usual routine, his next race will be the July 1 Gold Coast Marathon in Australia.

© 2018 Brett Larner, all rights reserved