translated and edited by Brett Larner
Training in Kushiro, Hokkaido in preparation for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, Japan's three marathon men Satoru Sasaki (Team Asahi Kasei), Hisanori Kitajima (Team Yasukawa Denki) and Suehiro Ishikawa (Team Honda) appeared at a press conference July 27 at a Kushiro hotel. Ishikawa was enthusiastic as he said, "We're not going there just to take part. We're ready to take on the world."
All three men wore the flashy bright "Sunrise Red" national colors that represent the power of the rising sun. The oldest-ever Japanese man to run the Olympic marathon, Ishikawa said that his goal is to do better than the 6th-place finish by Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki) at the London Olympics. With two wins in his three marathons to date, Nakamoto's training partner Kitajima commented, "I'm really happy to get to wear a uniform that I've only seen on TV. I don't want to break my flow, just relax and run big." His 2:08:56 best making him the fastest on the team, Sasaki said, "I haven't really had any injuries, so basically no problem. I want to sharpen things up and go to Rio ready to break my PB."
According to JAAF director of men's marathoning Takeshi Soh, this is the first time that the entire Japanese men's marathon squad has done its final training together. The cool temperatures in Hokkaido have helped them develop and maintain their condition during their training. Ishikawa commented, "It's a great environment where we've been able to put in great training." Kitajima, whose daughter was born in February, laughed as he said, "I didn't expect it to be this cool. I didn't bring the right clothes at all! I can't wait to get home and see my girl."