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Sanyo Tokushu Seiko Corporate Team Hires New Runners for First Time in Four Years


For the first time in four years, the Sanyo Tokushu Seiko corporate team based in Himeji, Hyogo has hired new athletes. Joining its roster are Kaihei Kitano, 22, a Himeji native who ran the Hakone Ekiden twice as a student at Tokyo's Teikyo University, and Naoto Katayama, 22, of Hiroshima who was 9th in the 1500 m at the National Championships last year during his 4th year at Okayama's Kantaiheiyo University. The duo's experience in college brings new blood to the team.

After graduating from Shikama Nishi J.H.S., Kitano went to the national-level ekiden program Suma Gakuen H.S. in Kobe. He didn't make progress in high school, but at Teikyo he developed quickly as he was given freedom to work independently and develop his own training program. With a half marathon PB of 1:02:40 he plans to run his first marathon this fall. "My strength is that I never give up," he said. "I want to run the kind of marathon that'll make everyone back home proud."

A middle-distance specialist, Katayama's 1500 m PB of 3:40.90 ranks him at all-time #12 among Japanese collegiate runners. He is entered in June's National Track and Field Championships at Osaka's Yanmar Stadium Nagai. "My basic goal is to make top 8 at Nationals," he said. "Further down the road I want to make the Olympics. Kitano has stamina, and I want to learn from him by training together."

The pair's addition brings the number of athletes on the Sanyo Tokushu Seiko team to five. Coach Jun Shinoto, 38, commented, "We've brought in two athletes with a future. They'll be competing nationally more and more, so please give them your support. We hope that they will be able to make a contribution to the local community." Follow Kitano and Katayama's progress on the official Sanyo Tokushu Seiko Twitter feed: @sanyo_steel_run

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translated by Brett Larner

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