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Short Track National Record Rush

Indoor track isn't really part of the vocabulary for Japanese middle and long distance athletes, but three turned in a string of new national records in the U.S. this weekend.

At the BU David Hemery Valentine Invitational on Saturday in Boston, Olympic steepler Ryoma Aoki (Honda) ran a new mile national record of 3:54.84 to finish 4th in Heat 2, taking 1.17 off the previous 3:56.01 NR set in Boston last year by Kazuto Iizawa (Tokai Univ.). Like Iizawa's old mark, as the fastest mile time ever by a Japanese man Aoki's new record will count as both the indoor NR and outright NR. 6th in Heat 4, Keisuke Morita (Subaru) also got under 4 minutes with a 3:59.03, with Nanami Arai (Honda) 9th behind Morita in 4:00.45. Hibiki Obara (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) took the top spot in Heat 12 in 4:01.34.

Sunday at the Millrose Games in New York, Nozomi Tanaka (New Balance) beat both her indoor 3000 m NR of 8:45.64 and outdoor NR of 8:40.84, splitting 8:40.05 en route in the women's 2 mile. There's no official Japanese 2-mile NR, so her final time of 9:16.76 for 5th also stands as a new national and indoor Asian area best performance.

Less than an hour later, Keita Sato (Komazawa Univ.) split 7:42.56 en route in the men's 2 mile, 3.06 under Suguru Osako's indoor NR from 2015 but just missing Osako's 7:40.09 outright 3000 m NR. Osako's 8:16.47 from the same race in 2015 was a national and indoor Asian best, and Sato held on to beat it too with a final time of 8:14.71 for 7th. "I knew how fast the pace was going to be, but when we actually ran it it was harder than I expected," said the 20-year-old Sato post-race. "Everyone was really good. I've got a lot of work to do to improve my last few laps." Winner Josh Kerr (Great Britain) ran a world record 8:00.67.

In the men's 60 m, co-NR holder Abdul Hakim Sani Brown (Puma) also tied his 6.54 record for 2nd behind Christian Coleman (U.S.A.), winner in 6.51. Sani Brown and Sato were roommates at the race hotel.

text and photo © 2024 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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