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Tanimoto and Futaoka to Lead Japanese Marathon Team for Doha World Championships

The JAAF announced the lineups today for the Japanese women's and men's marathon teams for this fall's Doha World Championships. Having scheduled Japan's new MGC Race 2020 Olympic marathon trials event for two weeks before the World Championships the JAAF has specified that nobody can double, meaning that, including alternates, three of the four women and all four men named would have to give up a chance at being part of the Tokyo Olympics in order to get a guaranteed spot on a lesser national team.

That means a team drawn from the middle and lower end of the list of trials qualifiers, a good mix of relatively inexperienced younger athletes likely to develop further for the 2024 Paris Olympics, mid-career runners without much chance of making the top few spots at the trials, and aging veterans who've shrewdly sussed out that being on a national team is better for their brands than going for a higher-level one they know they can't make. It's a B-team to be sure, but given the depth in Japanese marathoning it's still one that almost any country except Ethiopia and Kenya would have a hard time matching.

Looking at performances within the MGC Race qualifying window, midsummer 2017 through the end of April this year, the top-ranked members of the Doha women's and men's teams are their youngest, Mizuki Tanimoto and Kohei Futaoka. Tanimoto, 24, ran 2:25:28 for 11th in Nagoya in March in just her third marathon, a performance that ranked her 9th among the fifteen women to qualify for the trials. Her corporate team Tenmaya has the best track record for putting people on national teams, and with two of its other runners with better PBs also qualified for the trials Tenmaya is opting for Doha for Tanimoto.

Futaoka, 25, ran 2:09:15 for 4th in Beppu-Oita in February in his second serious marathon, ranking him 11th among the 34 men on the trials list.  His corporate sponsor Chudenko is one of the lower-tier corporate teams, and having him make a Worlds team is a major coup for them. Both Tanimoto and Futaoka have shown rapid progression so far, Tanimoto going from 2:35 to 2:31 to 2:25 and Futaoka from 2:13 to 2:09, and no doubt the powers that be are banking on them being contenders for the 2024 Paris Olympic team. The complete Doha team rosters with best performances inside the MGC Race qualifying window:

Mizuki Tanimoto, 24 - 2:25:28, Nagoya Women's Marathon 2019 - 11th
Ayano Ikemitsu, 28 - 2:26:07, Nagoya Women's Marathon 2019 - 12th
Madoka Nakano, 27 - 2:27:39, Osaka International Women's Marathon 2019 - 4th
alternate: Yukari Abe, 27 - 2:28:02, Osaka International Women's Marathon 2019 - 5th (did not qualify for MGC Race)

Kohei Futaoka, 25 - 2:09:15, Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon 2019 - 4th
Yuki Kawauchi, 32 - 2:09:21 - Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon 2019 - 8th
Hiroki Yamagishi, 27 - 2:10:14 - Tokyo Marathon 2018 - 17th
alternate: Daiji Kawai, 27 - 2:10:50 - Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon 2019 - 11th

© 2019 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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