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Getting a Late Start at Age 25 - Minami Yamanouchi

Back in 2010 JRN spotted 17-year-old high school student Minami Yamanouchi at a local 14 km road race in northern Ibaraki, where she beat the high school boys' course record by more than four minutes. At the time we wrote, "If Yamanouchi keeps running post-high school and lands at the right team, university or pro, we may have been lucky to see the first appearance of a future great." Now 25 and coached by former half marathon national record holder Atsushi Sato at the Kyocera corporate team, in the last few weeks Yamanouchi has really come into her own.

Minami Yamanouchi (Kyocera) took the top Japanese spot at 4th overall in the 5000 m at the April 28 Oda Memorial Meet in Hiroshima, one of the top-level track meets in Japan. A former amateur runner, she only joined the corporate leagues last August. Seeing her progress in less than a year of serious training, her coach Atsushi Sato, the 6th placer in the 2009 World Championships marathon, called her "exceptional." Getting a late start in her development at age 25, Yamanouchi says, "My ultimate goal is to go back to the marathon."

At the Oda Memorial Meet the field in her race included tough competition like London World Championships marathoner Yuka Ando (Suzuki Hamamatsu) and Valencia World Half Marathon Championships team member Yuka Hori (Panasonic). Her better-known competitors dropped out of the lead group one by one, but the unknown Yamanouchi was there til the end. Her finishing time was 15:21.31, a quality mark that would have landed her 3rd at last year's National Championships and qualified her for London.

Born in Fukushima, in junior high school she took part in the National Junior High School Championships. She initially enrolled in a high school but quit without ever going, instead earning her high school diploma by correspondence from Koriyama Hosei H.S. Without access to a track team she trained on her own. running a 2:47:41 marathon at age 18. After graduating she received offers from corporate teams, but, she said, "I hate strictness so I turned them all down." Getting a job with a paid membership amateur running club she chose the route of an amateur so that she could enjoy her running. But, suffering from repeated injuries during that time, she says, "It ended up not being much fun."

After quitting the club and recovering from her injuries Yamanouchi thought to herself, "Let's try running in the corporate leagues." After rejection after rejection, she finally sent a letter of appeal to Sato, a fellow native of Fukushima. Sato initially turned her down as well, but when she ran a strong PB in a track time trial off almost no training he saw her potential and admitted her to the Kyocera team.

Despite the enthusiasm she had expressed in her letter to him Yamanouchi initially struggled with her self-control, arriving at Kyocera 7-8 kg overweight and suffering a stress fracture in her left foot right away in the autumn. As a result she couldn't run for five months, and her actual training as a corporate leaguer began only three months ago. With that kind of short lead-up behind her she more than delivered at the Oda Memorial Meet.

In the May 5 Golden Games in Nobeoka women's 5000 m she was again the top Japanese placer, finishing 3rd overall. Despite her sudden leap to the top level of Japanese women's track Yamanouchi doesn't intend to run in this summer's Jakarta Asian Games, saying, "It's all happened so fast that I haven't had time to think. At any rate there's the National Championships and ekiden season." Yamanouchi may talk small, but her potential looks to be anything but.

source article:
https://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20180509-00000046-mai-spo
translated by Brett Larner

Comments

Metts said…
A 2:47 at age 18, another Japanese exceptional semi-amateur athlete like the others mentioned here before.
Chris said…
With that kind of talent and injury record, she sounds like a female Kenenisa Bekele.

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JRN's 2019 Japanese track and road distance running rankings. Overall rankings are calculated using runners' times and placings in races over 5000 m, 10000 m, half-marathon and marathon and the strength of these performances relative to others in the top ten in each category. Distances will be added as the season progresses. Click any image to enlarge.


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