Two-time New Year Ekiden national champion Nissin Shokuhin Group announced on Jan. 10 that it is making major cuts to its men's ekiden team. With the exception of MGC Race 2020 Olympic marathon trials qualifiers Akinobu Murasawa, 27, and Yuki Sato, 32, it will eliminate its other twelve athletes from the team. It has also canceled contracts with two graduating university fourth-years who were scheduled to join the team in April following their graduation.
The Nissin Shokuhin Group team has been one of the leaders of Japanese long distance, home to top class athletes including current marathon national record holder Suguru Osako, 27. The change in its policies comes suddenly. According to a person involved in the situation, of the team's fourteen members the twelve other than Murasawa and Sato have been asked to leave the team. Those who wish to continue their athletic careers will receive support in transferring to another team, while those who wish to retire will have the option to continue working for the company.
Murasawa and Sato remaining at Nissin will be contingent on their desire to remain. Along with issuing a formal apology to the two incoming university fourth-years Nissin has promised to assist them in locating other teams. One of the best current university third-years had also been in talks with Nissin to join the team, but with the shift in its policy that will also go back to zero.
Founded in 1995, the Nissin Shokuhin Group team has produced five Olympians including 2004 Athens Olympics 6th-placer Toshinari Suwa. It was a six-time winner of the East Japan Corporate Men's Ekiden and won the New Year Ekiden national championships in 2010 and 2012, but in recent years its performance as a team has declined. At this year's New Year Ekiden it finished only 16th.
translated by Brett Larner