Skip to main content

19-Year-Old Ryuji Miura Breaks 3000m Steeplechase NR to Kick Off Tokyo Olympics Athletics Day One

Juntendo University 2nd-year Ryuji Miura is the most exciting thing to have appeared on the Japanese scene in the last year, seeming to come from our of nowhere to just miss the 3000 m steeplechase NR last summer at age 18, breaking Suguru Osako's U20 half marathon national record last fall, and then rewriting the 3000 m SC NR twice since turning 19 in February this year. In his first real race against international competition Miura kicked off track and field action at the Tokyo Olympics by taking 6 seconds off his own 3000 mSC NR to finish 2nd in the opening heat in 8:09.92. Miura's time was fast enough to have medaled at all but two past Olympics and auto-qualifying him for what looks to be a very fast final, making him the first Japanese man to make an Olympic steeple final since 1972

Miura was calm and relaxed throughout the race, staying in the top 5 the whole way and moving to the front when he needed to. Over the last lap he challenged 2019 Doha World Championships silver medalist Lamecha Girma of Ethiopia for the lead, but while Girma got away in the end Miura looked like he still had more in him for the final, easing up well before the finish line. His time was the 2nd-fastest among the 15 qualifiers for the final, but whatever he manages to do in Monday's final, Miura's opening heat was one of the best Japanese Olympic performances ever. "I want to show everyone that I've got the strength to run an even better time," he said post-race. "No matter how tough a race it is I'll be up there and make it a race to the end."

This year marked the first time since the 1964 Tokyo Olympics that three Japanese men qualified in the 3000 mSC. The other two Japanese men, Ryoma Aoki and Kosei Yamaguchi, didn't advance, Aoki finishing 9th in the second heat and Yamaguchi 12th in the third.

In the men's high jump, NR holder Naoto Tobe advanced to the final by clearing 2.28 m. Takashi Eto failed to qualify, clearing only 2.21 m. Hiromu Yamauchi was the only one of the three Japanese men in the 400 m hurdles heats to move on, finishing 3rd in the second heat to place 16th overall among the semifinal qualifiers. Takatoshi Abe and Kazuki Kurokawa were each 6th in their heat and did not advance.

In the evening session, 20-year-old Ririka Hironaka led the first heat of the women's 5000 m past 4000 m at a fraction over 3:00/km. When the big move came she couldn't keep up and dropped to 9th. But with a PB of 14:55.87 Hironaka made it through to the final on time, just the third Japanese woman in history to make an Olympic 5000 m final. The other two Japanese women, Kaede Hagitani and Nozomi Tanaka, both ran PBs too but failed to move on.

In the first medal even, the men's 10000 m, all-time Japanese top two Akira Aizawa and Tatsuhiko Ito didn't have the same kind of spark as either Mura or Hironaka, hanging back in the second half of the pack despite a slow early pace and falling off when it got quicker. Aizawa lasted longer, finishing 17th in 28:18.37 and Ito 22nd of 23 finishers in 29:01.31. Ethiopian Selemon Barega took gold in 27:43.22, downing Ugandan duo Joshua Cheptegei and Jacob Kiplimo who took silver and bronze in 27:43.63 and 27:43.88.

text and photo © 2021 Mika Tokairin, all rights reserved

Buy Me A Coffee


Most-Read This Week

Kanazawa Marathon to Stop Runners at 21 Locations Due to Election

Due to be held the same day as voting in the upcoming election for the House of Representatives, runners at the Kanazawa Marathon can expect to be stopped at over 20 intersections on the course in order to allow voters on their way to the polls to pass without interference.  Scheduled to be held Oct. 31 after last year's race was canceled, the Kanazawa Marathon will take place while voting polls for the House of Representatives election are open. On race day, road closures for the marathon will be in place for up to 6 hours, but the locations of 14 polling stations on the course mean that voters will need to be able to cross through intersections. 50,000 voters are expected to use these locations, and while city officials are calling for people to utilize early voting or polling stations not affected by road closures then have made the decision to place security personnel at 21 intersections to stop runners when necessary. The Kanazawa Marathon already has this policy in place at

Weekend Overseas Marathon Results

With the Tokyo Marathon having canceled due to guidelines written in the pre-vaccine era some of Japan's top marathoners have had to go overseas this season. Men's national record holder Kengo Suzuki  (Fujitsu) was at Sunday's Chicago Marathon . Suzuki seemed to be staying calm in the lead group, but when the real move came he didn't have the same kind of closing speed he had at March's Lake Biwa Marathon and was left behind by the lead true. Suzuki ended up 4th in 2:08:50, the fastest time by a Japanese outside Japan so far this year. Seifu Tura Abdiwak  (Ethiopia) took 1st in 2:06:12. The next day at the Boston Marathon , Tokyo Paralympics women's gold medalist Misato Michishita  (Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) had a quick turnaround to win Boston's first-ever T11/T12 division race. In the elite women's race Shiho Kaneshige  (GRlab Kanto) tailed the lead pack with America Elaina Tabb through the first half of the race according to plan on sub-2:30 pace. But

February's Ome 30 km Road Race Canceled Due to Pandemic

On Oct. 14 the organizers of Tokyo's Ome 30 km Road Race announced that the popular event's 55th running, scheduled for Feb. 20, 2022, will not go ahead and will instead be postponed a year. Organizers said that due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic they had concerns about being able to stage the event in a way safe for runners, local residents, race staff and volunteers. The Ome 30 km's 55th running was originally scheduled for February, 2021 but was postponed to 2022, meaning the new decision will in effect be a two-year postponement.  The Ome 30 km Road Race was founded in 1967. Starting in the western Tokyo suburb of Ome, the race follows a mountainous route along the upper Tama River gorge and back. Featuring both 30 km and 10 km races, the race seen wins from Olympic gold medalists like Naoko Takahashi  and Mizuki Noguchi , and is one of Japan's most popular races for amateur runners, with over 12,000 finishers every year. In place of the 2022 event, organizers