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Koike Runs Japan's Third Sub-10, Niiya Clears Doha 5000 m Standard - Weekend Track Highlights

Japanese athletes were busy on the track overseas this weekend. At Friday's Stumptown Twilight meet in Portland, indoor mile Asian record holder Nanami Arai (Honda) took 2nd in the men's 1500 m in 3:39.58, his second time this season breaking 3:40. It used to be a rarity to see a Japanese man clear 3:40, something that happened once every couple of years, but so far this season four Japanese men have done it a total of six times. If the distance had even a fraction of the prestige of the Hakone Ekiden, or of that it has in the U.S., there's no doubt there'd be more.

Speaking of distances with prestige, on the first day of London's Muller Anniversary Games Diamond League spectacular Yuki Koike (Sumitomo Denko) became the third Japanese man to join the sub-10 club, running 9.98 (+0.5 m/s) for 4th in the men's 100 m final. Koike also ran 2nd on the Japanese men's 4x100 m relay team, which clocked a season best 37.78 for 2nd despite featuring only two regulars, Shuhei Tada (Sumitomo Denko) and Yoshihide Kiryu (Nihon Seimei). Making his debut on anchor as a late sub for 100 m national record holder Abdul Hakim Sani Brown (Univ. of Florida), Kirara Shiraishi (Cerespo) brought the team home safely to join the growing ranks of potential members of the squad's roster for next year's Tokyo Olympics. Koike also returned on Day 2 of London to 20.24 (+0.9 m/s) for 4th in the 200 m, the 2nd-fastest by a Japanese man so far this year and just off his PB.

Having skipped June's National Championships 5000 m to focus on the London Diamond League, Hitomi Niiya (Nike Tokyo TC) switched to Saturday's KBC Nacht van de Atletiek meet in Belgium at the last minute after feeling that she wouldn't be able to reach her goal in London. In Belgium she ran 15:20.03 for 6th, becoming the fourth Japanese woman to clear the Doha World Championships standard and just missing the 15:19.99 year-leading Japanese time held by Tomoka Kimura (Shiseido). Nanaka Kuraoka (Denso) and Mai Shoji (Denso) took 9th and 11th in 15:33.45 and 15:35.54, with 3000 mSC U20 national record holder Reimi Yoshimura (Daito Bunka Univ.) handling pacing duties in the early going.

One of the four men to have broken 3:40 for 1500 m so far this year, Hideyuki Tanaka (Toyota) came up agonizingly short of joining Niiya under the Doha 5000 m standard in Belgium, running an all-time Japanese #11 13:22.72 but missing the Doha standard by 0.22. Hazuma Hattori (Toenec) finished last in 13:58.49. Tanaka has shown tremendous range this year, running 3:39.98 for 1500 m, this 13:22.72 for 5000 m, and a 1:01:33 half marathon. All that's left is a solid 10000 m for him to seal up the title of Japan's best non-marathon man.

800 m and 1500 m national champion Ran Urabe (Nike Tokyo TC) followed up a 3rd-place finish a few days ago in the 1500 m at the Meeting to Liege with another 1500 m at KBC Nacht. Unable to regain her form after having caught a cold post-Nationals, Urabe was only 4th in 4:21.01. Runner-up at Nationals, men's 800 m national record holder Sho Kawamoto (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) won the 800 m B-Heat in 1:46.93 after having gone 0.60 faster a few days ago in Barcelona.

© 2019 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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Shiroyama's 8.40 m Jump Leads Four National Records at Athlete Night Games in Fukui

Held in the stadium where Japan saw its first-ever sub-10 clocking for 100 m, Saturday's new Athlete Night Games in Fukui meet produced four national records highlighted by an incredible men's long jump competition. Yuki Hashioka (Nihon Univ.) opened with a jump of 8.32 m +1.6 m/s that shattered the national record dating way back in 1992 by 7 cm. Hibika Tsuha (Toyo Univ.) followed him with a jump of 8.21 m + 2.0 m/s that put him into the all-time Japanese top three, then bettered that with an 8.23 m +0.6 m/s.

Out of nowhere, Shotaro Shiroyama (Zenrin) knocked them both back in the record books on his third jump with a new national record of 8.40 m +1.5 m/s, the #2 mark in the world so far this year and only his second time clearing 8 m with a legal wind. Japanese fans were quick to compare the trio's results to this season's Diamond League meets.

DL Shanghai
DL Lausanne
DL London
DL Fukui
🥇8m40🥈8m32🥉8m23 htt…

One Month Until the Japanese Olympic Marathon Trials

It's one month to go until what's bound to be the best marathon of 2019, Japan's 2020 Tokyo Olympics marathon trials, the Sept. 15 Marathon Grand Championship Race. Up to now Japan has typically picked its Olympic and World Championships marathon teams based on performances in a series of specific races, primarily the Fukuoka International Marathon, Tokyo Marathon and Lake Biwa Marathon for men, and the Saitama International Marathon, Osaka International Women's Marathon and Nagoya Women's Marathon for women. This time around they're going with a U.S.-style one-shot trials race, the MGC Race.

People had a nearly two-year window from August, 2017 to April this year to hit tough standards to qualify. Only 34 men and 15 women made it, and after withdrawals for the Doha World Championships the MGC Race's final entry list is just 31 men and 12 women. Swedish Athletics Federation official Lorenzo Nesicalled it "the most difficult marathon race ever to quali…

MGC Race Olympic Marathon Trials Qualifier - Naoki Okamoto

Naoki Okamotoage: 35
sponsor: Chugoku Denryoku
graduated from: Tottori Chuo Ikuei H.S., Meiji University

best time inside MGC window:
2:11:29, 1st, 2018 Hokkaido Marathon

PB: 2:11:29, 1st, 2018 Hokkaido Marathon

other PBs:
5000 m: 13:37.71 (2009) 10000 m: 28:05.84 (2011) half marathon: 1:02:16 (2009)

marathons inside MGC window (Aug. 1 2017 – April 30 2019)
DNF, 2019 Beppu-Oita Marathon
1st, 2018 Hokkaido Marathon, 2:11:29 – PB
DNF, 2018 Boston Marathon

other major results:
4th, 2019 Shibetsu Half Marathon, 1:03:53
2nd, 2019 New Year Ekiden Fourth Stage (22.4 km), 1:05:13
1st, 2018 Chugoku Corporate Ekiden Sixth Stage (19.0 km), 56:25 – CR
1st, 2018 Ome 30 km Road Race, 1:33:09
21st, 2017 Tokyo Marathon, 2:13:53

We’re picking Okamoto as our official dark horse of the men’s race. The second-oldest man in a field, Okamoto is a journeyman corporate leaguer who never broke 2:12 and whose PBs all came a decade ago. But, nearing the end of his career, over the last two years he has really come on…