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Matsueda and Tobe Improve Olympic Chances - Japanese Olympic Trials Day One Results

The last part of Japan's Olympic Trials for the Tokyo Olympics kicked off Thursday at Osaka's Yanmar Stadium Nagai with the combined National Track and Field Championships and U20 National Track and Field Championships.

In the men's 5000 m final, indoor 5000 m NR holder Hyuga Endo took the national title in 13:28.67 behind Kenyan pacers Jackson Kavesa and Amos Kurgat but was far short of both the Olympic standard and scoring enough points to make it into the Olympic quota. "I've never been this unhappy to win in my life," he said post-race. Top-ranked Japanese man Hiroki Matsueda was 2nd in 13:30.21, moving himself up to 36th in the quota and improving his chances of making the Olympic team. Yuta Bando was 3rd in 13:31.46 to move into 40th in the quota, probably not enough to survive through next Tuesday's deadline for qualifying, with 10000 m NR holder Akira Aizawa 4th in 13:31.53, just shy of qualifying for the double at 43rd.

Men's high jump NR holder Naoto Tobe came up short of the Olympic qualifying standard, winning with a jump of 2.30 m. He and 3rd-placer Takashi Shinno both scored enough points to slightly improve their standings in the quota, Tobe in particular pretty much a lock to be named to the team. 2nd-placer Tomohiro Shinno and #3-ranked man Ryo Sato were both short of what they needed to break into the quota, their Olympic hopes coming to an end. Favorite Sumire Hata took the women's long jump title, jumping 6.40 m (-1.3) on her fifth attempt for the win.

The women's 4x400 m relay team clocked 3:32.17 for 1st, beating an ad hoc international team that including two Kenyan distance runners by over 30 seconds. In the men's discus, NR holder Yuji Tsutsumi won on his first throw of 59.29 m. College student Maki Saito won the women's discus title with a final throw of 52.89 m, beating NR holder Nanaka Kori by over 2.5 m.

In qualifying rounds, the main event of the day was the heats and semis of the men's 100 m. All the heavyweights took the top spots in their first round heats, Yoshihide Kiryu leading on time in 10.12 (-0.4) despite an ongoing injury issue. Running on his 25th birthday, Shuhei Tada ran the fastest time ever by a Japanese man with a headwind over 2.0 m/s, winning his heat in 10.26 (-2.3). 

In the semifinals, NR holder Ryota Yamagata led the way on time with a 10.16 (0.0) to win the first semi, Tada next in 10.17 (-0.4) to win his. Aska Cambridge as the only big name not to make it through to the final, running 10.44 (-0.9) for 5th in the third semi. Previous NR holder Abdul Hakim Sani Brown squeezed through on time with a 10.30 (0.0) for 3rd in the same heat as Yamagata, beaten easily by high schooler Hiroki Yanagida who ran a PB of 10.22 to make the cut for Friday's final, the second-fastest ever by a Japanese high schooler behind only Kiryu.

Far off her best, women's 100 m NR holder Chisato Fukushima didn't make it out of the opening round, running only 12.01 (+0.8) for 5th in her heat. Favorite Mei Kodama led the semifinals in 11.46 (+0.3). Seika Aoyama led the women's 400 m qualifying round in 53.20.

Kentaro Sato had the fastest time among men's 400 m qualifiers at 46.11. Ryoji Tatezawa led the men's 1500 m qualifiers, winning the second heat in 3:42.07 after a relatively lazy first heat won by Jin Mizoguchi n 3:52.13.

Among the U20 events, the biggest performance of the day was the women's 5000 m, where 18-year-old Takushoku University first-year Seira Fuwa set a meet record 15:26.09 to win by more than 20 seconds over the 2020 National Corporate Women's Ekiden champion Japan Post team's Chika Kosakai and Azusa Mihara. Aoyama Gakuin University first-years took the top 3 spots in the U20 men's 5000 m, Masaya Tsurukawa getting the win in 13:57.47.

Complete results from Day One can be had here. Live streaming details for the remaining three days of the meet are here.

© 2021 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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