On his final jump he delivered a 8.10 m to place 6th, visibly disappointed but still the best Japanese men's Olympic performance in 37 years and 8 cm further than Junichi Usui's bronze medal jump in Los Angeles.
In the women's 1500 m heats, Nozomi Tanaka shaved another sliver off her record to qualify for the semifinal in 4:02.33. Past national champion Ran Urabe ran a PB 4:07.90 but did not advance.
In the evening session, Ryuji Miura was the lone Japanese man in the men's 3000 m steeplechase final in just his second serious international race, the first being his national record-breaking heat. Out slower than he was comfortable with, Miura took the lead in the early going. But in the second half he seemed to lack the spark that had illuminated his three national record-breaking runs this season, dropping back into the double digits before kicking hard to finish 7th in 8:16.90, 7 seconds off the NR he'd run in his first round heat.
But whatever disappointment he might have felt, in post-race interviews Miura seemed mostly positive and eager to work out the problems that surfaced this time. Given that he's only been running at this level for a year, and still turned in Japan's al-time best Olympic steeple result you'll probably be hearing his name again in Oregon next year and Paris two years later.
Like Miura, Ririka Hironaka was uncomfortable with the slow pace in the women's 5000 m final over the first 200 m and took over the lead with something she was more comfortable with. As in her first round heat that was right around 3:00/km, with a first 1000 m in 3:00.7. From there she ran each 1000 m progressively faster, even when sucked in by the pack, hanging on to the back, getting dropped, and kicking in, going 3:00.7 - 3:00.1 - 2:59.9 - 2:57.9 - 2:54.2, uncharacteristically throwing off the hat she wears in every race with about 1000 m to go.
Hironaka finished 9th in 14:52.84, her second PB in two races and bettering the great Kayoko Fukushi's national record by less than 0.4. It was the last remaining major record of Fukushi's still standing, and with its erasure her name now appears only next to the U20 women's 3000 m. At the rate Hironaka is going this won't be the last time she adds her name to the record books. Her next chance comes Saturday in the women's 10000 m final.
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