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Japanese U20 Women Win Team Bronze at World Cross Country Championships

The almost always reliable junior women scored Japan's only medal of the 2019 World Cross Country Championships in Aarhus, Denmark, beating Uganda by one point to make the podium. Uganda's Sarah Chelangat was part of the mad sprint finish for the individual medals, coming up just short at 4th but giving Uganda an edge for bronze behind Ethiopia and Kenya.

It took solid pair runs from Japan's Ayuka Kazama and Ririka Hironaka, 14th and 15th ahead of Uganda's second runner Esther Chekwemoi, and Chika Kosakai and Hazuki Doi, 21st and 22nd just seconds ahead of Uganda's last two scorers, to make it happen. The bronze medal placing was the junior women's 16th in World Cross Country Championships history.

Kazama's 14th-place finish as the first runner not from Ethiopia, Kenya or Uganda was also the best individual placing of the day by a Japanese athlete, as it turned out. But Issei Sato's 20th-place finish in the U20 men's 8 km was also quality, advancing through the field each lap to finish as the only runner in the top 20 other than Norway's Jakob Ingebrigtsen not from Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda or Eritrea. The junior men took 7th, tying the U.S.A. on points as each team's fourth scorer, Charlie Perry and Ryuto Igawa, finished side-by-side.

The senior women were the only squad without a full complement of six, Japan opting to send only the four needed for scoring as most of the top placers at last month's National Cross Country Championships passed World XC over in favor of next month's Asian Athletics Championships. In her senior debut and first time racing over longer than 8 km, national champion Nozomi Tanaka was the first Japanese woman to finish, coming in 39th. The senior women took 12th in team scoring.

The senior men were the weakest link, national champion Yuta Bando landing only 65th to lead the team to a disappointing 14th-place finish. After leading part of the first lap, Yohei Komatsu of 2019 Hakone Ekiden champion Tokai University ended up as the team's fifth man in 92nd place. No Japanese athletes took part in the mixed relay.

World Cross Country Championships

Aarhus, Denmark, 3/30/19
complete results

Junior Women's 6 km
1. Beatrice Chebet (Kenya) - 20:50
2. Alemitu Tariku (Ethiopia) - 20:50
3. Tsigie Gebreselama (Ethiopia) - 20:50
14. Ayuko Kazama (Japan) - 21:58
15. Ririka Hironaka (Japan) - 22:00
21. Chika Kosakai (Japan) - 22:18
22. Hazuki Doi (Japan) - 22:21
29. Miku Sakai (Japan) - 22:45
33. Hikari Onishi (Japan) - 22:54

1. Ethiopia - 17
2. Kenya - 26
3. Japan - 72
4. Uganda - 73

Junior Men's 8 km
1. Milkesa Mengesha (Ethiopia) - 23:52
2. Tadese Worku (Ethiopia) - 23:54
3. Oscar Chelimo (Uganda) - 23:55
20. Issei Sato (Japan) - 25:51
33. Jun Kasai (Japan) - 26:29
45. Taiga Nakanishi (Japan) - 26:44
56. Ryuto Igawa (Japan) - 27:07
70. Tetta Shiratori (Japan) - 27:32

1. Ethiopia - 18
2. Uganda - 32
3. Kenya - 34
7. Japan - 154

Senior Women's 10 km
1. Hellen Obiri (Kenya) - 36:14
2. Dera Dida (Ethiopia) - 36:16
3. Letesenbet Gidey (Ethiopia) - 36:24
39. Nozomi Tanaka (Japan) - 39:27
46. Rika Kaseda (Japan) - 39:48
47. Yukina Ueda (Japan) - 39:48
95. Yui Yabuta (Japan) - 43:25

1. Ethiopia - 21
2. Kenya - 25
3. Uganda - 36
12. Japan - 227

Senior Men's 10 km
1. Joshua Cheptegei (Uganda) - 31:40
2. Jacob Kiplimo (Uganda) - 31:44
3. Geoffrey Kamworor (Kenya) - 31:55
65. Yuta Bando (Japan) - 34:35
74. Yusuke Tamura (Japan) - 34:54
78. Yuhi Nakaya (Japan) - 35:01
80. Kosei Yamaguchi (Japan) - 35:04
92. Yohei Komatsu (Japan) - 35:24
99. Yusuke Nishiyama (Japan) - 35:42

1. Uganda - 20
2. Kenya - 43
3. Ethiopia - 46
14. Japan - 297

Mised Relay 4 x 2 km
1. Ethiopia - 25:49
2. Morocco - 26:22
3. Kenya - 26:29

medal ceremony photo © 2019 Kosei Yamaguchi, all rights reserved
text, video and other photos © 2019 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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TokyoRacer said…
Thanks for the video - those are fun races to watch.

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