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Showing posts from March, 2020

Beijing Olympics 4x100 m Silver Medalist Naoki Tsukahara Becomes First Olympic Medalist to Test Positive for Coronavirus

On Mar. 31 the Fujitsu corporate team announced that 2008 Beijing Olympics men's 4x100 m relay silver medalist Naoki Tsukahara, 34, now a team advisor, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Under medical guidance Tsukahara was hospitalized Mar. 30 at a health center specializing in treatment of infectious disease. He is the first Olympic medalist to have been publicly revealed to have the coronavirus.

Tsukahara took part in a track and field training program with over 70 participants in Suzuka, Mie as a guest speaker on Mar. 28 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. At 6:00 p.m. he went to a local hospital after beginning to feel unwell and coming down with a fever. When his fever did not come down the following day, a PCR test was conducted by the hospital under the guidance of the specialized health center. His infection with the coronavirus was confirmed on the 30th.

Following the positive result, the Fujitsu corporation disinfected its entire Kawasaki factory, where Tsukahara h…

To Everyone Involved in Sports

A message from Japan Sports Agency CommissionerDaichi Suzuki

Due to the impact of the novel coronavirus' current spread, at the request of the government competitions and events across the range of sport have been either canceled or postponed. This culminated with the Mar. 24 joint announcement by the International Olympic Committee and Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee of the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, and yesterday's announcement of the two events' new dates a year later.

Many athletes and athletic teams are no doubt feeling the sting of pain, regret and sadness due to the cancelation of competitions for which they had already dedicated long hours of effort. There are also many who are feeling anxiety about their future plans whenever they see the news.

It's the same for me. I'm not just the Japan Sports Agency Commissioner. I'm an athlete who has spent countless days in pursuit of my goals and dreams the same as the rest of yo…

First-Timers

Yamada Denki assistant coach Hirokazu Miyauchi, Ayumi Nakayama, Honda assistant coach Yosuke Osawa, 1960 Olympic marathoner and former Canadian national record holder Gord Dickson, Maki Suzawa and Minoru Okuda.

Part five in a series of republished interviews. Speaking of his experience in Japan not long after winning the Beijing Olympics marathon, Kenyan Samuel Wanjiru said, "Japanese people are conservative and don't like change." Well, sometimes things do change. In response to an invitation from race organizers interested in diversifying their elite field, the Honda and Yamada Denki corporate teams agreed to send three young runners to the 2010 Toronto Waterfront Marathon, two of them for their marathon debuts, with support from JRN. 

Minoru Okuda (25, Honda) was a Hakone Ekiden star at Chuo University. Ayumi Nakayama (25, Yamada Denki) has four marathons, a best of 2:28:51 and bad luck with weather to her name. Just 22, Maki Suzawa (Yamada Denki) won the 2009 Miyazaki …

Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee Head Mori: "It Is Essential That IOC Takes Its Share of Responsibility" for Costs of Postponement

Tokyo Olympic and Paralympics Games Organizing Committee head Yoshiro Mori appeared on a morning news program on Mar. 28 to talk about the rescheduling of the 2020 Games. "I'd like to reach a decision within the next week," he said, indicating that a specific timeframe would be determined soon. "Even last night, officials the IOC, the Organizing Committee, the Metropolitan Government and the National Government were at work beginning to make administrative changes," Mori said.

But at the same, factions are already starting to form around the question of who will pay for the costs associated with postponing the Games. Mori bluntly commented, "The IOC is trying not to put up any money for this, but given the nature of the problem this time with the virus outbreak it is not a question of who bears responsibility. The Metropolitan Government, the Organizing Committee and the National Government are all sharing some of the responsibility, so it is essential th…

Governor Koike Expresses Hope that Tokyo Olympic Marathon Will Move Back to Tokyo in Event of Spring Olympics

If @Tokyo2020 is held outside peak summer months of July/Aug next year, do you want to see marathon and race walks stay in Sapporo or move back to original courses in Tokyo? もし東京五輪が来年7月・8月以外で開催されるとしたら、マラソンと競歩は札幌、元の東京、どちらがいい? @joc — Japan Running News (@JRNHeadlines) March 25, 2020
On Mar. 27 Governor Yuriko Koike, 67, spoke to the media at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government offices and on a morning news program about the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. "This is heavily premised on the assumption that the novel coronavirus will be under containment. The Olympics were postponed due to the coronavirus problem to begin with, and naturally, a decision should be made only after solving it," she said, emphasizing the expectation that the virus situation will be resolved.

Should the Olympics be rescheduled for spring, 2021 or another time outside the peak summer heat, the Governor also expressed her hope that the marathons and race walks would be staged in Tokyo as original…

Hakone Dreams Unrealized - Eiji Kobayashi and Missing the Cut

Part four in a series of republished interviews. If you've never been in Japan on Jan. 2nd and 3rd it's hard to appreciate just how big the Hakone Ekiden is. The 200 men who make up the 20 university teams in each year's 10-stage long distance relay are the best of the best, the ones who stood out in high school enough to be recruited by one of the Kanto-region Hakone powerhouse universities, survived the year-long training and remained among the top 10 of their 30-50 strong team. It is no exaggeration to call the Hakone Ekiden the world's most competitive university men's race.

For better or worse every teenaged boy who runs in Japan is thinking about Hakone, but only a handful will ever get the chance of that dream coming true. Eiji Kobayashi was one of the many who dedicated themselves to this dream but fell short, a member of Josai University's ekiden squad during the school's rise following its hiring of former Waseda University aces Jun Hiratsuka and S…

Oct. 18 Chiba Aqualine Marathon Canceled, Citing Economic Impact of Coronavirus on Sponsor Companies

On Mar. 27 the organizing committee of the Oct. 18 Chiba Aqualine Marathon 2020 announced that the race will be canceled. The decision to cancel the event was made earlier in the day at the organizing committee's general meeting at the Chiba Prefectural Government headquarters.

Explaining the reasons for the decision, a spokesperson said, "Along with the spread of the novel coronavirus and the one-year postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, there has been an economic impact on sponsor companies. It would be difficult for us to guarantee the safety and security of our participants and as a result to offer them our characteristic warm hospitality, and going ahead with the marathon would also place an unfair burden upon our sponsor company partners." Entries for this year's Chiba Aqualine Marathon were set to open on Apr. 3.

Translator's note: The Chiba Aqualine Marathon will surely not be the only race worldwide in the next year canceled due t…

Seiko Golden Grand Prix, 10000 m National Championships to be Postponed

On Mar. 26 a JAAF official indicated that the Seiko Golden Grand Prix track and field meet scheduled for May 10 at the new Tokyo Olympic Stadium is set to be postponed as a result of the spread of the novel coronavirus. Citing the worldwide spread of the virus, the official said that the absence of the possibility of international athletes competing was a factor in the decision. The new date for the meet will be set pending the virus situation stabilizing and the fixing of the new schedule for the postponed Tokyo Olympic Games.

The Seiko Golden Grand Prix meet was awarded World Athletics' highest ranking in its new Continental Tour series, gold. The Continental Tour ranks second only to the Diamond League, with athletes earning prize money and world rankings points that impact their eligibility for the Tokyo Olympics. Along with postponing the Seiko Golden Grand Prix, the JAAF is planning to postpone two other events at the new Olympic Stadium, the May 5-6 Olympic test event and …

"Not an International Way of Thinking" - Stephen Mayaka on Fitting Into Japan's Corporate Team World as a Foreigner

Stephen Mayaka was the first Kenyan high school runner in Japan and the first to go the complete route from high school to university and on into the corporate running world. Now a Japanese citizen, married to a former World Championships-level Japanese marathoner and head coach of Obirin University’s ekiden team, Mayaka is a mentor to Kenyan athletes both across Japan and back in Kenya. JRN interviewed Mayaka just before New Year, 2010 for an article for Running Times magazine. This is part two of his interview. Click here for part one.



Part Two: The Corporate Life, Pros and Cons

At the professional level, in your day-to-day life in the corporate teams how is it for Kenyan runners or other foreign athletes?

I think every company has its own schedule. I support some companies, and I don’t support some other companies, the way they are using us. There are different understandings. I think there are companies that need a Kenyan just to run in the ekiden championships and some that need hi…

Japanese Long Distance Reacts to Tokyo 2020 Postponement

Following the announcement of the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to 2021, the athletes already named to the women's and men's marathon teams are expected to retain their positions as national representatives at the Olympics.

A day after the Olympic announcement, JAAF marathon development project leader Toshihiko Seko confirmed that the project team is thinking in that direction. "I want to protect the rights of the six athletes already on the team," he said. "Their places on the team are something they earned themselves through a three-year process. We do not intend to take that away. This morning one of their coaches called me and asked, 'What's going to happen to my athlete?' All of them are worried that their places on the Olympic team will be annulled. I can tell them that thanks to the MGC process we have confidence in them as our national representatives. The final word, however, is that of the JAAF board of directors."

Other mem…

"I Came Here to Test Myself" - Stephen Mayaka On the Kenyan Student Runner's Life

Stephen Mayaka was the first Kenyan high school runner in Japan and the first to go the complete route from high school to university and on into the corporate running world. Now a Japanese citizen, married to a former World Championships-level Japanese marathoner and head coach of Obirin University’s track and field team, Mayaka is a mentor to Kenyan athletes both across Japan and back in Kenya. JRN interviewed Mayaka just before New Year, 2010 for an article for Running Times magazine.



Part One: Discovery, High School and University

Could you talk a bit about your personal history? How were you selected to come to Japan?

I first came to Japan in 1990, in December. I came here to test myself. When I was in Kenya I ran in the Kenyan Secondary School Championships. I was the top at cross-country. There was a Japanese there, the one who introduced Samuel Wanjiru to Sendai Ikuei [High School], Mr. Kobayashi. He had spotted me, and before, Joseph Otwori, who came from the same school. He wa…