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Hironaka Breaks 5000 m Junior National Record and 2020 Olympic Standard

Just two weeks after her 19th birthday, Ririka Hironaka, star rookie for 2019 National Corporate Women's Ekiden champions Japan Post, ended the year in style with a nearly 18-second PB of 15:05.40 to break the great Kayoko Fukushi's U20 national record by 5 seconds and become just the second Japanese woman so far to break the 2020 Olympic standard in the 5000 m.

Running at Yamaguchi's National Corporate Women's Time Trials, after Kenyans Martha Mokaya (Canon AC Kyushu) and Hellen Ekarare (Toyota Jidoshokki) led the pack through opening splits of 3:01, 3:04 and 3:03, Hironaka took off in pursuit of the 15:10.00 Olympic standard, covering the next two 1000 m splits in 2:59 and 2:58. Along with breaking Fukushi's 2001-era junior record and clearing the Olympic standard, Hironaka moved up to all-time Japanese #5, following Nozomi Tanaka's all-time #2 15:00.01 at October's Doha World Championships to make this a pretty good year for the 5000 m by Japanese women's standards. With Fukushi's senior national record standing at 14:53.22 it won't be surprising to see either Hironaka or Tanaka go for it in 2020.

The women's 10000 m came up just short of the 31:25.00 Olympic standard but still produced good results across the board. Kenyan Tabitha Njeri Kamau (Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) took the top spot in 31:28.45 with teammate Harumi Okamoto next in 31:29.29. Mao Ichiyama (Wacoal) continued her comeback from September's MGC Race Olympic marathon trials with a 3rd-place finish in 31:34.56, a PB by 15 seconds. In 4th, Daito Bunka University 1st-year Yuka Suzuki ran a PB 31:37.88, the 2nd-fastest Japanese collegiate time ever, to add to her 2019 World University Games half marathon gold medal. After a year mostly marked by setbacks, Yuka Hori (Panasonic) wrapped it with a 10-second PB of 31:38.63 for 5th.

5000 m year-leader Tanaka opted to pace teammate Yume Goto (Toyota Jidoshokki TC) in the 3000 m, putting her on track for a 9:05.17 season best before kicking away for the win in 9:01.55. Tanaka plans to race January's National Women's Ekiden before representing Japan at February's Asian Indoor Championships.

National Corporate Women's Time Trials

Yamaguchi, 12/7/19
complete results

Women's 5000 m Heat 3
1. Ririka Hironaka (Japan Post) - 15:05.40 - U20 NR
2. Martha Mokaya (Canon AC Kyushu) - 15:13.07
3. Hellen Ekarare (Toyota Jidoshokki) - 15:14.21
4. Tomoka Kimura (Shiseido) - 15:32.93
5. Kaede Hagitani (Edion) - 15:37.98
6. Shino Hasegawa (Wacoal) - 15:38.13
7. Akane Ogasawara (Toyota Jidoshokki) - 15:46.68
8. Juri Ichikawa (Yamada Denki) - 15:46.89
9. Mikuni Yada (Denso) - 15:47.31
10. Misaki Hayashida (Kyudenko) - 15:48.31

Women's 10000 m Heat 2
1. Tabitha Njeri Kamau (Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 31:28.45
2. Harumi Okamoto (Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 31:29.29
3. Mao Ichiyama (Wacoal) - 31:34.56 - PB
4. Yuka Suzuki (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 31:37.88 - PB
5. Yuka Hori (Panasonic) - 31:38.63 - PB
6. Ayumi Hagiwara (Toyota Jidoshokki) - 31:59.47
7. Sakiho Tsutsui (Yamada Denki) - 32:02.36
8. Minami Yamanouchi (Kyocera) - 32:05.90
9. Ai Hosoda (Daihatsu) - 32:06.34
10. Natsuki Sekiya (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 32:08.44

Women's 3000 m Heat 1
1. Nozomi Tanaka (Toyota Jidoshokki TC) - 9:01.55
2. Yume Goto (Toyota Jidoshokki TC) - 9:05.17
3. Miyaka Sugata (Japan Post) - 9:26.45
4. Eijia MIyagi (Yamada Denki) - 9:37.17
5. Koto Hiramura (Daiso) - 9:51.22

photo © 2019 M. Kawaguchi, all rights reserved
text © 2019 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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