translated by Brett Larner
The Iwatani Sangyo corporation held a press conference in Osaka on Mar. 30 to announce the launch of its new women's ekiden team on Apr. 1. Head coach Hisakazu Hirose, who guided Mizuki Noguchi to the 2004 Athens Olympics women's marathon gold medal, spoke of his ambitions for the team, telling the media, "There are three years left until the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. I want to try for it."
Nanami Aoki, who stood at the peak of the high school and university ekiden scene as part of the Ritsumeikan Uji H.S. and Ritsumeikan Univ. teams, and the other members of the initial squad of six were introduced along with the team's orange uniform. The team dormitory in its home base of Mino, Osaka is set to be completed in September. Coach Hirose commented, "Our first competition will be May's Kansai Jitsugyodan Track and Field Championships. My goal is to cultivate another athlete like Noguchi. I hope to expand the team to about ten people in the future."