Skip to main content

JAAF Announces Japanese Women's and Men's Marathon Teams for Rio Olympics

by Brett Larner

The JAAF announced the Japanese women's and men's marathon team lineups for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics at a press conference on Mar. 17 streamed live worldwide.  Surprisingly there were no surprises, no controversial calls, the athletes chosen for the team the most likely based on the complicated selection criteria.

The women's team includes 2016 Osaka Women's winner Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal), 2016 Nagoya Women's runner-up Tomomi Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei) and 2015 World Championships 7th-placer Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku).  The men's team is made up of 2015 Fukuoka 3rd-placer Satoru Sasaki (Team Asahi Kasei), 2015 Lake Biwa runner-up Hisanori Kitajima (Team Yasukawa Denki) and 4th-placer Suehiro Ishikawa (Team Honda).  No alternates were named in the event, likely given recent history, that any of the team members does not make the starting line, and no one was named to the team from two of the selection races, last year's Saitama International Women's Marathon and this year's Tokyo Marathon, where the top Japanese finishers were Kaori Yoshida (Runners Pulse), 2nd in a PB of 2:28:43, and Yuki Takamiya (Team Yakult), 8th in a PB of 2:10:57.

With only Tanaka still in her 20s the teams have average ages of 31 for the women and just over 32 for the men, Ishikawa at 36 being the oldest Japanese man ever to break 2:10 with his 2:09:25 two weeks ago at Lake Biwa.  Of the six Fukushi looks like the best medal prospect, a bronze medal at the 2013 Moscow World Championships and a 2:22:17 win in Osaka in January, all-time #7 among Japanese women, to her name.  Tanaka, controversially left off of last year's Beijing World Championships team despite winning one of the selection races in a quality time, showed tremendous improvement with her all-time Japanese #11 2:23:19 last weekend in Nagoya and could be a top-eight contender.  Ito, 7th in Beijing, has never been flashy but has shown a lot of stability and should play a solid support role.

Among the men Kitajima has the slowest PB at only 2:09:16 two weeks ago in Lake Biwa, but given his success so far in just over a year as a marathoner, winning his debut in February last year in 2:12:28, winning again in Sydney in September in 2:12:44 on a tough course and then coming just 5 seconds short of winning Lake Biwa, and his status of training partner to London Olympics 6th-placer and Moscow World Championships 5th-placer Kentaro Nakamoto, he's likely to be Japan's top man in Rio.  Ishikawa has proven himself to be competent and reliable at home and abroad and should have top ten potential, three of his six marathons having been 2:09s in Japan and the others a 2:10 and a 2:11 in Berlin and a 2:11 debut.  Fastest of the three on paper, Sasaki is more of a wildcard, his marathon career not especially impressive before diet and training changes helped him break 2:09 in Fukuoka last December.  If he really did hit on something with the changeup to his regimen then expect a strong team run from all three Japanese men come August.

Women

Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) - D.O.B. Mar. 25, 1982
P.B.: 2:22:17 (2016 Osaka International Women's Marathon)

Marathon History
1st - 2016 Osaka International Women's Marathon - 2:22:17
4th - 2015 Chicago Marathon - 2:24:25
6th - 2014 Berlin Marathon - 2:26:25
3rd - 2013 Moscow World Championships Marathon - 2:27:45
1st - 2013 Osaka International Women's Marathon - 2:24:21
8th - 2012 Osaka International Women's Marathon - 2:37:35
2nd - 2011 Chicago Marathon - 2:24:38
19th - 2008 Osaka International Women's Marathon - 2:40:54

Tomomi Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei) - D.O.B. Sept. 25, 1988
P.B.: 2:23:19 (2016 Nagoya Women's Marathon)

Marathon History
2nd - 2016 Nagoya Women's Marathon - 2:23:19
8th - 2015 Berlin Marathon - 2:28:00
1st - 2014 Yokohama International Women's Marathon - 2:26:57
4th - 2014 Nagoya Women's Marathon - 2:26:05

Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - D.O.B. May 23, 1984
P.B.: 2:24:42 (2015 Nagoya Women's Marathon)

Marathon History
7th - 2015 Beijing World Championships Marathon - 2:29:48
3rd - 2015 Nagoya Women's Marathon - 2:24:42
7th - 2014 Vienna Marathon - 2:35:15
7th - 2014 Tokyo Marathon - 2:28:36
3rd - 2013 Hokkaido Marathon - 2:32:54
7th - 2013 London Marathon - 2:28:37
5th - 2012 Yokohama International Women's Marathon - 2:27:06
5th - 2012 Nagoya Women's Marathon - 2:25:26
22nd - 2011 Daegu World Championships Marathon - 2:35:16
2nd - 2011 Osaka International Women's Marathon - 2:26:55
4th - 2010 Nagoya International Women's Marathon - 2:29:13

Men

Satoru Sasaki (Team Asahi Kasei) - D.O.B. Oct. 16, 1985
P.B.: 2:08:56 (2015 Fukuoka International Marathon)

Marathon History
3rd - 2015 Fukuoka International Marathon - 2:08:56
9th - 2015 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon - 2:14:27
17th - 2014 Chicago Marathon - 2:15:25
2nd - 2014 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon - 2:09:47
9th - 2013 Fukuoka International Marathon - 2:13:12
16th - 2013 Tokyo Marathon - 2:11:28
14th - 2011 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon - 2:12:42
20th - 2010 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon - 2:19:23
7th - 2009 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon - 2:14:00

Suehiro Ishikawa (Team Honda) - D.O.B. Sept. 27, 1979
P.B.: 2:09:10 (2013 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon)

Marathon History
4th - 2016 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon - 2:09:25
13th - 2014 Tokyo Marathon - 2:09:29
7th - 2013 Berlin Marathon - 2:10:24
6th - 2013 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon - 2:09:10
11th - 2012 Berlin Marathon - 2:11:46
13th - 2012 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon - 2:11:13

Hisanori Kitajima (Team Yasukawa Denki) - D.O.B. Oct. 16, 1984
P.B.: 2:09:16 (2016 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon)

Marathon History
2nd - 2016 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon - 2:09:16
1st - 2015 Sydney Marathon - 2:12:44
1st - 2015 Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon - 2:12:28

© 2016 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Yuta Shitara Breaks Japanese Men's Half Marathon National Record in Berlin Marathon Tuneup at Usti nad Labem Half

A week after his 28:55 at the Birell Prague Grand Prix 10 km and just eight days out from the Berlin Marathon, Yuta Shitara (Honda) made the great leap forward, taking 8 seconds off Atsushi Sato's 2007 half marathon Japanese national record, finishing 8th at the Czech Republic's Usti nad Labem Half Marathon.

Shitara is probably most well-known outside Japan for going through halfway under 62 minutes during his marathon debut at this year's Tokyo Marathon and still ending up with a 2:09:27, but he's been turning heads in Japan since his second year at Toyo University when he broke a stage record at the 2012 Hakone Ekiden and outkicked the U.S.A.'s Dathan Ritzenhein to finish in 1:01:48 at the NYC Half two months later, until this year the fastest time ever by a Japanese man on U.S soil.

Three weeks before Tokyo this year he ran a 1:01:19 PB at the Marugame Half. Many people would call that a solid tuneup three weeks out from a serious marathon, but eight days? In P…

Hattori Becomes Third-Straight Japanese Men's Sydney Marathon Winner

Following within 24 hours of Yuki Kawauchi's win at the BMW Oslo Marathon and Yuta Shitara's national record at the Usti nad Labem Half Marathon, Shota Hattori (Honda) made it an overseas hat trick for men from Japan's Saitama prefecture when he won the Sydney Marathon in 2:15:16. Having debuted at February's Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon with a 2:14:19 for 2nd, Hattori outlasted Ethiopian Werkuneh Seyoum Aboye, Kenyan Sammy Kigen Korir (Kenya) and compatriot Ryoma Takeuchi (Hitachi Butsuryu) to become the third-straight Japanese men's Sydney champ, winning by a margin of 20 seconds over Aboye.

Congratulations to Shota Hattori, male winner of the Blackmores Marathon – with a time of 02:15:16. #SydneyRunningFestivalpic.twitter.com/R47w8TCG2X — SydneyRunFestival (@officialbsrf) September 17, 2017
No Japanese women made the podium in the marathon, but in the accompanying half marathon both the men's and women's races saw Japanese runners-up. In the men's …

Ayuko Suzuki Leaves for Altitude Training in Boulder Motivated for the Marathon

2017 London World Championships 5000 m and 10000 m runner Ayuko Suzuki (25, Japan Post) left from Narita Airport on Sept. 18 for altitude training in Boulder, Colorado.

Two days earlier at a half marathon in Czech Republic, Yuta Shitara (25, Honda), like Suzuki born in 1991, broke the 10-year-old Japanese men's half marathon national record in a time of 1:00:17. "It's a big motivation to see an athlete the same age as me doing something like that," she said. Showing her determination to be one of her generation's leaders, she added, "I'll be 28 [at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics], right in my prime mentally and physically. I want to run big too."

In the leadup to the Tokyo Olympics Suzuki has the marathon in sight along with the track. "I need to run a half marathon and marathon somewhere once to check [how well they suit me]," she said. "Coach and I will be talking about it." If everything goes according to plan, December's Sanyo …