Skip to main content

With Fukushi's Withdrawal the Storm is Over for Women's Olympic Selection - But What About the Men?

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20160303-00000083-spnannex-spo

an editorial by Ryosuke Sugimoto
translated by Brett Larner

It's official, Kayoko Fukushi has backed out of her plans to run the Nagoya Women's Marathon.  As a result there's not much doubt that the Rio de Janeiro Olympic women's marathon team will be made up of Mai Ito for placing 7th in the Beijing World Championships, Fukushi for breaking the JAAF's 2:22:30 Olympic qualifying standard when she won the Osaka International Women's Marathon in 2:22:17, and the top Japanese finisher in Nagoya.

The storm has pretty much passed for women's selection, but what about the men?  Among the entries for the final men's selection race, this weekend's Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, is civil servant runner Yuki Kawauchi.  No men qualified for Rio in Beijing, so essentially the top three Japanese finishers in the three domestic selection races will be chosen.  At December's Fukuoka International Marathon Satoru Sasaki (Team Asahi Kasei) was the first Japanese man in 2:08:56.  Kawauchi was fourth Japanese in 2:12:48.

In the JAAF's selection criteria it specifies that if athletes run more than one selection race only the results from their first run will be considered.  The only exception is if they break the men's JAAF qualifying standard, 2:06:30, in their second (or third) attempt.  At the present time Kawauchi is outside the ring for consideration for the team, so the only route open to him is to break 2:06:30 at Lake Biwa.  With a PB of 2:08:14 it's very unrealistic to think he could break the JAAF qualifying standard.

Kawauchi's goals in running Lake Biwa are to get payback for Fukuoka and to get a foothold to start his campaign for the 2017 London World Championships.  He has already pretty much given up on making the Olympic team.  So why am I writing this closeup on him at this point?  Because of the totally unexpected results among all the favorites to make the Rio team in Tokyo last weekend.  The top Japanese man was Yuki Takamiya (Team Yakult) in 2:10:57.  The chance of making the Olympic team with that time is, to put it bluntly, zero.

If two Japanese men run 2:08 in Lake Biwa then everything can be settled smoothly with Sasaki and the two of them.  But, what if Kawauchi is the top Japanese man?  If he breaks 2:06:30 then there's no issue, but if he doesn't break it and still runs a faster time than Sasaki then he'll have beaten the fastest Japanese man among all the domestic selection races.  If he doesn't break 2:06:30, the JAAF won't pick Kawauchi.  You can say that with confidence.  It's in the rules.

But as was all too painfully clear during the mess surrounding Fukushi, not many people completely understand the rules.  You can be totally sure that if Kawauchi is the top Japanese man there will be an uproar.  "Why aren't you choosing Kawauchi!?!  He was the fastest!!!"  And the JAAF will completely ignore it.  You can say that with total confidence too.  For good or bad, they'll never bend.  Because they're the JAAF.

Needless to say, if a whole bunch of corporate runners show some guts then the storm will blow over for the men too.  But if Kawauchi runs big then even if the selection goes strictly according to procedure it's inevitable that the JAAF is going to be called into question.  In closing, allow me to bring you a few words from Kawauchi's youngest brother Koki: "Times like this bring out strong feelings in my brother.  He's the challenger in this fight, and I think that's when you see his rebellious spirit at its best."  For my part, I couldn't agree more.

Comments

Scott Brown said…
I like what his brother Koki said and it also seems to me that being "the challenger" suits Kawauchi's personality down to the ground. I heard on the "Marathon Talk" podcast the other day them saying how much they were wanting him to make the Olympic team too. He has such great support overseas and in Japan, we are all rooting for him.

Most-Read This Week

Former Coach Koide on Hara's Arrest: "She Was Really F*cking Serious"

A World Championships marathoner was arrested for shoplifting. On Aug. 17 The Tochigi Prefectural Police Ashikaga Department arrested temp worker Yumiko Hara, 35, on suspicion of stealing skin lotion and other items from a convenience store.

Yoshio Koide, Hara's former coach at the Universal Entertainment corporate team and head of the Saku Athlete Club, was surprised by the events. "She trained harder than anybody," Koide said. "She never missed training, and she was really f*cking serious. I think there must have been a reason for her to commit shoplifting, but she was always a normal kind of girl who would say, "Yes!" when you told her to do something. When she retired she said, 'I've done what I could but I just can't run the way I want to.' I haven't spoken to her since she quit, but it's very unfortunate news and I can't understand it."

source article:https://www.nikkansports.com/general/nikkan/news/1873808.html
translat…

World Championships Marathoner Yumiko Hara Arrested for Shoplifting Cosmetics

Former World Championships marathoner Yumiko Hara, 35, was arrested on suspicion of shoplifting cosmetics and other goods. A resident of Ashikaga, Tochigi, Hara is suspected of shoplifting eight items including cosmetics and soft drinks with a total value of 2700 yen [~$25 USD] from a local convenience store on July 30. According to police, a clerk performing a store inventory found that the item totals did not match. When police reviewed security camera footage they identified Hara as a suspect.

Hara represented Japan at two World Championships, finishing 6th in the marathon at the 2005 Helsinki World Championships. During her interrogation Hara admitted her guilt in the charges, saying that there was "no mistake."
Translator's note: Along with the 2005 Helsinki World Championships and 2007 Osaka World Championships, Hara represented Japan at the 2003 Vilamoura World Half Marathon Championships. She was the winner of both the 2007 Osaka International Women's Maratho…

Silver and Bronze - Summary of Japanese Performances at 2017 London World Championships

Thanks to a last-minute rush Japan walked away from the London World Championships with a passable haul. The JAAF judges performance in terms of medals and top 8 finishes. Up to Saturday, only one Japanese athlete had met either, 18-year-old sprinter Abdul Hakim Sani Brown finishing 7th in the men's 200 m final as the first Japanese man to make a 200 m final at Worlds since 2003. Three other Japanese athletes had scored top 10 placings, Yuki Kawauchi and Kentaro Nakamoto in the men's marathon and Ayuko Suzuki in the women's 10000 m, but under the JAAF's criteria these were not viewed as success.


Saturday's men's 4x100 m final brought the first Japanese medal of the Championships, with Japan following up on its Rio Olympics silver with a bronze, its first-ever Worlds medal in the discipline. Sunday morning brought Japan's best-ever showing in the men's 50 km race walk, Rio bronze medalist Hirooki Arai moving up to silver, Kai Kobayashi taking bronze wit…