Skip to main content

Rio de Janeiro Olympics Athletics Day Three Japanese Results

by Brett Larner

After biding her time throughout the race, two-time Nagoya Women's Marathon winner Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain) made the move that decided the medal winners in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics women's marathon.  Having lost to Mare Dibaba (Ethiopia) in a sprint finish at last year's Beijing World Championships, Kirwa went for a long surge that shook it down to a race between her, Dibaba and London Marathon winner Jemima Sumgong (Kenya).  Kirwa read Dibaba right, getting away from her in the long straight to the finish, but Sumgong read them both better.  4th in Beijing, Sumgong made a last push to score Kenya's first-ever women's marathon gold.  The three medalists came through 26 seconds apart, Sumgong's 2:24:04 the third-fastest winning time in the Olympic women's marathon's nine-race history. Another 17 seconds back, Tirfi Tsegaye (Ethiopia) held off second-half agente provocatrice Volha Mazuronak (Belarus) by one second for 4th, Mazuronak seeming to lack the rocket finish that put her faster than all but the top five men from 40 km to the finish at April's London Marathon.

Like Kirwa a Kenyan-born Bahraini, Rose Chelimo took 8th to put three Kenyan athletes in the top ten.  The U.S.A. team of Shalane Flanagan, Desi Linden and Amy Cragg did it for real, rising to the day, running like the Olympics mattered and landing 6th, 7th and 9th.  Linden ran impervious to the caprices of the pack, deserving credit for making the first move to the front after a moderate start and unfazed whether she was out front or behind. Training partners Flanagan and Cragg stayed together up front through much of the race before Cragg faltered, Flanagan lasting almost until Kirwa's move. Flanagan was 6th, Linden 42 seconds back in 7th. Cragg shook off a threat from North Korean twins Hye-Song and Hye-Gyong Kim to stay in the top 10, 9th in 2:28:25.

And Japan?  The American women were what Japan imagines itself to be.  The romantic memory of the heyday of Paris and Athens.  This was a good team. Kayoko Fukushi, 2:22.  Tomomi Tanaka, 2:23.  Mai Ito, 2:24.  No cracks in that lineup.  And yet, nothing.  Ito was never in it.  Fukushi and Tanaka didn't go with the pack's first move to follow Linden, then spent time catching up, then fell off one at a time.  Fukushi, saying she was there to win gold, 14th in 2:29:53.  Tanaka 19th in 2:31:12.  Ito 46th in 2:37:37.  Where the American women performed above themselves, all three Japanese women placed far lower than their pre-race rankings, even with a number of DNFs among the top-level competition.  The mid-to-high-teens placings matched those in the women's and men's 10000 m, and like Yuka Takashima, Hanami Sekine and Suguru Osako in those races Fukushi's time put her into the all-time Japanese Olympic top ten, but whatever the strength of their credentials from carefully controlled domestic races it was clear that the Japanese athletes simply couldn't race in this kind of environment.  The one that matters.

It's not hard to think of several reasons ranging from charitable to skeptical, let's say, why this could be the case.  Over the first week of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics the Japanese national team was enthusiastic and determined across all sports, an impressive 3rd in the gold medal count at that point behind the U.S.A. and China.  Compare it to the sheer overwhelming averageness of the athletics squad so far.  Sports like swimming, rugby, even judo, have gone from periods of weakness, made major changes to their administration, methodology, their psychology, taken steps to adapt to the changing landscape of modernity, and have scintillated this Olympics.  If something as conservative as judo can do it, why not athletics?  If the U.S.A. can get it right, why not Japan?  Japan, it's over. That nice dream you've been living in is over. It's time to wake up and do your laundry.

Fukushi was one of Japan's only medal prospects in athletics in Rio.  With the men's 4x100 m relay now shouldering more of the weight of expectation sprinters Ryota Yamagata and Asuka Cambridge faced the best in the world in the 100 m semi-finals.  National champion Cambridge faltered, slightly slower than in his opening heat as he ran 10.17 (+0.0 m/s) for last in his semi. Yamagata, 2nd in his heat with a fast start, delivered the best Japanese performance on the track so far this Olympics.  Facing the likes of Usain Bolt (Jamaica), Andre de Grasse (Canada) and Trayvon Bromell (U.S.A.), Yamagata was again quickest out of the blocks with a reaction time of 0.109 despite a prior false start by another athlete.  Ranked last in his semi and one of only two athletes never to have broken 10, Yamagata delivered a PB of 10.05 (+0.2 m/s) for 5th, missing the final by 0.04 but coolly bringing his best under the highest pressure.  No shame in his game.  He can hold his head high.

Rio de Janeiro Olympics
Aug. 14, 2016
click here for complete results

Women's Marathon
1. Jemima Sumgong (Kenya) - 2:24:04
2. Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain) - 2:24:13
3. Mare Dibaba (Ethiopia) - 2:24:30
4. Tirfi Tsegaye (Ethiopia) - 2:24:47
5. Volha Mazuronak (Belarus) - 2:24:48
6. Shalane Flanagan (U.S.A.) - 2:25:26
7. Desi Linden (U.S.A.) - 2:26:08
8. Rose Chelimo (Bahrain) - 2:27:36
9. Amy Cragg (U.S.A.) - 2:28:25
10. Hye-Song Kim (North Korea) - 2:28:36
-----
14. Kayoko Fukushi (Japan) - 2:29:53
19. Tomomi Tanaka (Japan) - 2:31:12
46. Mai Ito (Japan) - 2:37:37

Men's High Jump Qualification Group A
1. Mutaz Essa Barshim (Qatar) - 2.29 m - q
1. Bohdan Bondarenko (Ukraine) - 2.29 m - q
3. Andriy Protsenko (Ukraine) - 2.29 m - q
-----
18. Takashi Eto (Japan) - 2.17 m

Men's 100 m Semi-Final 2 +0.2 m/s
1. Usain Bolt (Jamaica) - 9.86 - Q
2. Andrew De Grasse (Canada) - 9.92 - Q, PB
3. Trayvon Bromell (U.S.A.) - 10.01 - q
-----
5. Ryota Yamagata (Japan) - 10.05 - PB

Men's 100 m Semi-Final 3 +0.0 m/s
1. Justin Gatlin (U.S.A.) - 9.94 - Q
2. Yohan Blake (Jamaica) - 10.01 - Q
3. Christophe Lematire (France) - 10.07
-----
7. Asuka Cambridge (Japan) - 10.17

© 2016 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

yuza said…
I think both sprinters did well yesterday too. They have a chance in the relay.

As for the marathon...it is a bit of a let down. Fukushi has done well in races in warm weather, so I had hopes she would run a bit better. I think it is safe to say that the injury she had hindered her preparation. We have seen her before run on pace and then fall away in marathons and it is usually when she is not fully fit.

Tanaka was disappointing, but again as far as I know she has not been tested in warm weather. It is always difficult to know how people will handle warm conditions, so I will cut her some slack. However, she said she could not handle the change of pace(words to that effect), which is not really a good enough excuse, because she should know what to expect.

I am going to assume Ito was unfit. She is normally a tough runner who struggles her way to sub 2:30:00 times like she did in Beijing last year. I thought she might do the same again. But a full year of preparation gets her to 46th. That is not good enough.

I think what infuriates me is that Japan has so much depth in the marathon, yet they always seem to send unfit athletes to the Olympics with Beijing being the worst example of it.

I still think they should hold a half marathon five weeks before the Olympic marathon and take the first three across the finish line.
Franckie said…
about marathon i think better selection it's american system selection
and national championship too early (late june)
A system of selection for olympics was also very complicate
Franck

Most-Read This Week

Kawauchi Named Captain of Japanese National Team for London World Championships

At a JAAF event at the British Embassy in Tokyo on July 21, marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (30, Saitama Pref. Gov't) was named men's captain of the Japanese national team for next month's London World Championships. Javelin throw national record holder Yuki Ebihara (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) was chosen as women's captain.

In a wide-ranging and impassioned speech 4 minutes and 20 seconds long, Kawauchi stoked the team's morale as he told attendees, "I think that there are athletes here today who look at London as just a checkpoint along the way to the Tokyo Olympics. But as a representative of Japan it is not enough just to be there competing. I feel it strongly. You must produce results at this event, the London World Championships. This is the task assigned to each and every one of us. It is critical that we work seriously to achieve our goals. The Japanese people want nothing less. What can we as athletes do for them? More than just wearing the uniform, each of us mus…

'$500,000 USD Prized Asian Premier Marathon Series 2017-18 Launched in Beijing'

http://athleticsasia.org/index.php/k2-component/143-500-000-usd-prized-asian-premier-marathon-series-2017-18-launched-in-beijing

A very interesting World Marathon Majors-style development with prize money only for Asian athletes. Equally interesting is the absence of a Japanese race in the series. Japanese marathoners would dominate the series if they ran its three component races, their only real current competition in Asia coming from East African-born Bahraini athletes.

Hayakawa and Ichiyama Win Shibetsu Half

2nd in 2015 and 3rd last year, Tsubasa Hayakawa (Toyota) finally succeeded in scoring 1st at the Shibetsu Half Marathon, outrunning 2013-14 winner Masato Imai (Toyota Kyushu) by 6 seconds to win in 1:03:38. Hayakawa pushed it from the early stages of the race, Imai the only one to try to stay with him but ultimately losing touch. 2016 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon winner Melaku Abera (Kurosaki Harima) was 3rd in 1:03:51.

士別ハーフマラソン
日差しが強くなってきました…💦 pic.twitter.com/qRfUei3aRt — はたのまき (@machakin77) July 23, 2017
The women's field was split between two distances, 10 km and half marathon. Kanako Takemoto (Daihatsu) won the 10 km in 34:27 by a margin of almost 10 seconds over an Otsuka Seiyaku trio led by Ayaka Inoue. 2017 National Cross-Country champion and last year's 10 km runner-up Mao Ichiyama (Wacoal) took the top spot in the half marathon, outrunning teammate and national record holder Kayoko Fukushi and others to win in 1:14:01. Fukushi finished 4th in 1:15:41 behind last ye…