The members of the Japanese men's and women's marathon teams for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics appeared at a press conference Mar. 12 at Koriyama View Hotel in Koriyama, Fukushima to talk about their hopes and aspirations for the home soil Games. The team members also visited the grave of 1964 Tokyo Olympics men's marathon bronze medalist Kokichi Tsuburaya in Sukagawa, Fukushima, praying and swearing to medal. The JAAF chose Fukushima as the starting point for Team Japan's quest to become Tsuburaya's Olympic inheritors. At the press conference JAAF marathon development project leader Toshihiko Seko, 63, said, "Tsuburaya's run formed the bedrock upon which the marathon stands today."
Appearing at the press conference were men's team member Yuma Hattori (26, Toyota), women's team members Honami Maeda (23, Tenmaya), Ayuko Suzuki (28, Japan Post) and Mao Ichiyama (22, Wacoal), along with men's alternates Shohei Otsuka (25, Kyudenko) and Ryo Hashimoto (26, GMO) and women's alternates Rei Ohara (29, Tenmaya) and Mizuki Matsuda (24, Daihatsu). The remaining two men's team members, Shogo Nakamura (27, Fujitsu) and Suguru Osako (28, Nike), did not take part, citing coronavirus concerns.
Maeda, winner of the women's race at last September's MGC Olympic marathon trials, commented, "I understand that Tsuburaya was a great person. I too want to deliver my best at the Olympics." After paying their respects at this grave, team members visited Kokichi Tsuburaya Memorial Hall in Sukagawa to deepen their knowledge of his life and accomplishments. The 2020 Olympic women's marathon will take place Aug. 8 and the men's marathon Aug. 9.
translated by Brett Larner