Skip to main content

Marathon Greats React to Hara's Call for Shimoda to be Put on Rio Team

http://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/20160229/ath16022905000003-n1.html
http://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/20160229/ath16022905030007-n1.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

After Aoyama Gakuin University second-year Yuta Shimoda, 19, ran a 2:11:34 debut to finish 10th overall as the second Japanese man in Sunday's Tokyo Marathon, AGU head coach Susumu Hara called for Shimoda to be put on the Rio team, calling it essential for Shimoda's development before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.  While Katsumi Sakai, one of the JAAF executives in charge of team selection, responded flatly, "We do not take the future into account," two of Japan's marathon greats, Olympians Takeyuki Nakayama and Hiromi Taniguchi, gave more nuanced views on Hara's statement.

Takeyuki Nakayama, 4th place, 1988 Seoul Olympics and 1992 Barcelona Olympics marathons

I can understand how Hara feels, but there are a lot of opportunities to get marathon experience even without the Olympics.  Get Shimoda racing in Europe and around the world, not in Japan.  There's nothing in the selection criteria about future potential, so it would set a bad precedent for other runners.  You have to look more at the big picture.

Hiromi Taniguchi, 1991 Tokyo World Championships marathon gold medalist, 1992 Barcelona Olympics and 1996 Atlanta Olympics marathoner

It was a truly superb performance for Shimoda to run 2:11:34 at age 19.  But I think it is premature for Coach Hara to be asserting, "Shimoda should be made a major favorite for the team."

Shimoda got into his own rhythm in the mostly-Japanese second pack, then dropped them.  That's a very different thing from going into the lead pack and trying to survive.  A 2:11 says that he doesn't have the speed to target track races yet either.  Rather than using the Olympics to gain experience, I think it would be enough to get experience running other Japanese and international races.

This trend we are seeing of university runners including Shimoda trying marathons while still students will have an impact on the future.  The marathon requires profound mental strength and is not something coaches should force.  It is more important that it come from the will of the athlete.  No mistakes should be made with timing.

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Saitama International Marathon Elite Field

With just over three weeks to go the Saitama International Marathon has released the elite field for its third running scheduled for Nov. 12, and it's a small one. A problematic event that carries the diminished legacy of the Tokyo International Women's Marathon and Yokohama International Women's Marathon, Saitama occupies a place in the national team selection process that should go to the far superior Tokyo Marathon women's race but remains out in the northwestern suburbs thanks to the sponsor and TV broadcast income it generates for the JAAF. But with a field like this, how much longer will it be able to generate any sponsor interest or income?

The move of the National Corporate Women's Ekiden Championships from mid-December to late November, just two weeks after Saitama, means that not a single corporate league woman is entered in Saitama's elite field. Not one. The home crowd is represented by 22-year-old Reia Iwade (Dome), who quit the Noritz corporate t…

Kawabata Over Kawauchi at Takashimadaira 20 km

Like a distant echo of the thunder of yesterday's Yosenkai 20 km reverberating across the city, Tokyo's other major 20 km road race took place this morning in the northwestern suburb of Takashimadaira. Narrowly surviving the loss of its main sponsor last year, the Takashimadaira Road Race offers a unique 5 km loop course that delivers fast times. Now in its 42nd year, Takashimadaira is a favorite for upper-tier universities that don't have to run the Yosenkai to requalify for the Hakone Ekiden, for other schools' second-stringers, and for top-level independents and amateurs.

This year's race was fronted by a group of runners from Izumo Ekiden winner Tokai University who didn't make Tokai's final Izumo roster, by London World Championships marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) and others from yesterday's Yosenkai winner Teikyo University and the Hakone-qualified Juntendo University and Komazawa University. In the same cool and lightly rainy…

Kawauchi and Kanematsu Win Rainy Shimantogawa 100 km

The 23rd edition of the Shimantogawa Ultramarathon took place Oct. 15 in Shimanto, Kochi. 1822 runners started the 100 km division, where Yoshiki Kawauchi (26, Saitama T&F Assoc.) and Aiko Kanematsu (37, Team RxL) took the men's and women's titles for the first time.

The 100 km division started under a heavy downpour at 5:30 a.m. in front of Warabioka J.H.S. The 576 participants in the 60 km division got off 4 1/2 hours later from Koinobori Park, with both races finishing at Nakamura H.S.

Kawauchi, the younger brother of "civil servant runner" Yuki Kawauchi, ran Shimantogawa for the second time, improving dramatically on last year's run to win in 6:42:06. "Last time I was 21st, a total disaster," Kawauchi said afterward. "My brother told me, 'Don't overdo it on the uphills,' and his advie helped me get through it. The scenery around Iwama Chinkabashi was really beautiful."

Kanematsu began running with her husband around age 30…