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International Athletes at Olympic Test Event Praise COVID-19 Protocols

International athletes who competed in yesterday's Tokyo Olympics test event half marathon in Sapporo gave high marks to the event's coronavirus protocols.  Dutch athlete Bart Van Nunen  said, "The measures against COVID-19 were perfect. I didn't feel there were any problems." International athletes were not allowed to go out in public or use public transportation and were required to eat in their hotel rooms. "I felt that this just showed the kind of measures they were taking," said Van Nunen. Men's winner Hillary Kipkoech  of Kenya commented, "It was very tough with the strong wind, but the course itself was excellent." Translator's note:   In contrast to the athlete comments here, a story published on Saturday by Inside the Games  on COVID-19 countermeasures at Olympic test events this week, which for whatever reason didn't mention the marathon test event, selected only negative quotes from athletes, who were quoted as complai
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Ichiyama and Kipkoech Win Sapporo Olympic Test Event Half Marathon

The test event for the Tokyo Olympics marathon went off as planned May 5 in Sapporo on a course more or less mirroring the first half of this summer's Olympic course. Strong winds from the south meant a slow start over the first 8 km, super fast splits from the turn to the north just before 10 km until after 15 km, and a technical finish into the wind over the narrow and winding last few km through the Hokkaido University campus. After a slow first km, Olympic marathon women's team members Ayuko Suzuki (Japan Post) and Mao Ichiyama  (Wacoal) plus alternate Mizuki Matsuda (Daihatsu) took it out hard with pacing courtesy of one of Ichiyama's male coaches. They stayed together on 1:08 pace until almost 18 km before Suzuki slipped away, Ichiyama kicking to win in a 1:08:28 PB and Matsuda closing hard in 1:08:32 for 2nd, likewise a PB. Ichiyama's time moved her up to all-time Japanese #6, with Matsuda picking up the #7 spot and knocking her coach Miwako Yamanaka  out of t

Hironaka, Ando and Ito Score Olympic 10000 m Spots

20-year-old Ririka Hironaka  (Japan Post), marathoner Yuka Ando  (Wacoal) and last year's men's runner-up Tatsuhiko Ito  (Honda) joined the winners of December's 2020 National Championships 10000 m on the Tokyo Olympics team as they took the top spots at today's 2021 National Championships 10000 m in Shizuoka. Hironaka, who debuted over the distance three weeks ago with a 31:30.03, Ando and Kenyan pacer Tabitha Njeri Kamau  (Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) were all about the 31:25.00 Olympic standard, going out on sub-31 pace and burning off all competition, including Kamau. Hironaka took 1st in 31:11.75 with Ando next in 31:18.18, each of them clearing the JAAF's two criteria for Olympic selection, finishing in the top three and hitting the standard, to join 2020 winner Hitomi Niiya  (Sekisui Kagaku) on the Olympic team. No other women broke 32 minutes, 2021 National University Half Marathon champion Narumi Kobayashi  (Meijo Univ.) running 32:08.45, the 8th-fastest Japanese

10000 m National Championships Start Lists

The 10000 m component of this year's National Track and Field Championships happens Monday night in Shizuoka, just 5 months after the rescheduled 2020 edition. One spot each on the men's and women's 10000 m squads for the Tokyo Olympics 10000 m are already occupied by the winners of those races, and to pick up one of the two remaining spots this time around people will need to have the Olympic standard and make top 3.  Tatsuhiko Ito  (Honda), runner-up in December in 27:25.73, is the only one of the 44 Japanese men entered to have already cleared the 27:28.00 standard, so all he needs to worry about is putting himself among the first three. His nearest competition, Daiji Kawai  (Toenec) and  Tetsuya Yoroizaka  (Asahi Kasei), will need to find another 7 or 8 seconds to have have a shot. None of the 23 Japanese women entered has cleared the 31:25.00 standard, but Ririka Hironaka  (Japan Post) came close in her debut last month in 31:30.03 and, along with sub-31:30 runner Ha

Olympic Marathon Trials Winner Nakamura Scratches from Wednesday's Test Event

On May 1 the organizers of the May 5 Sapporo Marathon Festival 2020 Olympic marathon test event announced that Tokyo Olympics men's marathon trials winner Shogo Nakamura  (Fujitsu) has withdrawn from the half marathon. According to Fujitsu, Nakamura is experiencing some pain on the inside of his left foot. A statement on the team's official website stated, "He is currently recovering and expects to get back to training next week." Nakamura had been schedule to run February's Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon but withdrew due to tendonitis issues in his left leg. His withdrawal from the Olympic test event marks his second-straight DNS. The Olympic test event half marathon covers a large section of the course for this summer's Olympic marathon. Olympic team members scheduled to compete include men's marathoner Yuma Hattori  (Toyota) and all three members of the women's marathon squad, Honami Maeda  (Tenmaya), Ayuko Suzuki  (Japan Post) and Mao Ichiyama  (Waco

Douglas Wakiihuri Awarded Medal of Honor for Bridging Divide Between Japan and Kenya

Former marathon runner Douglas Wakiihuri  has been awarded Japan's Spring Medal of Honor, an award recognizing individuals who have make exceptional contributions to Japanese society and become role models. Japan has produced a lot of distance runners, but Wakiihuri was the first Kenyan to pass through the Japanese development system.  His contributions to the sports and cultural exchange between Japan and Kenya are held in high esteem. Speaking in fluent Japanese from his home in Nairobi, an ebullient Wakiihuri said, "I am very happy. I owe a longstanding debt to everyone in Japan. The joy I feel is not just mine, but belongs to all of them. I am truly grateful."  Wakiihuri joined the S&B corporate team in 1983. "I was just 19 years old," he recalls. "Japan gave me a chance." Under the leadership of the late coach Kiyoshi Nakamura , Wakiihuri won the gold medal in the marathon at the 1987 Rome World Championships and the silver medal at the 1988

Meet, Youth, Collegiate and National Records - Oda Memorial Meet Highlights

The 55th Oda Memorial Meet went off as scheduled Thursday in Hiroshima with off and on rain leaving a wet track for most of the day.  In the women's 5000 m,  Teresia Muthoni  (Daiso) set a meet record 15:06.76 for the win, with runner-up Naomi Muthoni  (Univ. Ent.) the only other runner under the Olympic standard at 15:08.07. Japan-based Kenyans took five of the top six positions. Kazuna Kanetomo  (Kyocera) won the B-heat in 15:55.24. Kenyans swept the top three spots in the men's 5000 m A-heat, with local high schooler Cosmas Mwangi  (Sera H.S.) taking 1st in 13:22.80. Keita Sato (Rakunan H.S.), who turned 17 in January, was 4th in 13:42.50, the 4th-best time ever by a Japanese high schooler and over 3 seconds under the previous U18 national record. The men's 3000 m also turned out high-level results, with Keisuke Morita (Komori Corp.) leading the top six under 8:00 in a meet record 7:53.01. Another meet record came in the women's 3000 m steeplechase, with collegiat