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Omwamba Leads Yamanashi Gakuin Back to National University Ekiden

by Brett Larner



A year after ending its 24-year streak of National University Men's Ekiden Championships appearances, Yamanashi Gakuin University returned to the fold with a win at the Championships' Kanto Region Qualifer June 30 at Tokyo's National Stadium.  A meet consisting of four 10000 m heats each with two men from each of the twenty entered universities, team scores are calculated by the combined times of all eight of a school's entered runners.  The five teams with the fastest cumulative time go on to November's National Championships.

Nittai University held a 17-second lead over Yamanashi Gakuin coming into the fourth and fastest heat, where Yamanashi Gakuin's new Kenyan recruit Enock Omwamba led start to finish to take the individual win in 28:39.13 and, together with his teammate Hiroto Inoue's 29:01.28 PB, give Yamanashi Gakuin a 15-second win over Nittai in the final scoring.  Omwamba was accompanied for a large part of the race by Josai Universi…

Watch the Sapporo International Half Marathon Live Online

By Brett Larner

The 2012 Sapporo International Half Marathon will take place this Sunday, July 1.  The 1:30 p.m. start time in recent years has meant slower times, but Sapporo remains Japan's deepest summer road race and always delivers.  Nihon TV will broadcast the race live, and international viewers should be able to pick up the broadcast via Keyhole TV.  JRN will do additional live race coverage as usual via Twitter @JRNLive.

At the top of the men's field is Kenyan great Martin Mathathi (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC), who set a searing course record of 58.56 on the aided Great North Run course last fall.  Sapporo will be Mathathi's next step along a course to a planned marathon debut at this December's Fukuoka International Marathon.  Alongside him are 2011 Fukuoka winner Josphat Ndambiri (Kenya/Team Komori Corp.), national record holder Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku), and London Olympic marathoners Arata Fujiwara (Miki House) and Ryo Yamamoto (Team Sagawa Express), b…

Ndungu Continues to Impress at Hokuren Distance Challenge Fukagawa Meet

by Brett Larner

Kenyan first-year Charles Ndungu (Sapporo Yamanote H.S.), the first-ever Kenyan at a high school on Japan's northernmost main island of Hokkaido, continued his rapid improvement since arriving in Japan this spring, running 13:35.54 in the June 27 Hokuren Distance Challenge Fukagawa Meet 5000 m A-heat, a PB by over 20 seconds, to finish just behind past Kenyan national XC champion Gideon Ngatuny (Team Nissin Shokuhin).  A month ago Ndungu's coach Kazuki Kajiyamapromised him an MP3 player for breaking 14 for the first time.  What will he get now?  Ndungu's remarkable run catapults him to the top level of the Japan-based Kenyan high school contingent and makes him a solid contender for the win at next month's National High School Track and Field Championships.

University-level competition was thick, with Hakone Ekiden powerhouses Toyo University, Komazawa University and Waseda University all recording multiple sub-29 performances in the men's 10000 m A…

Marathoner Shimahara Expecting First Child

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/f-sp-tp0-20120627-973978.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On June 27 the management company of Hokkaido Marathon course record holder Kiyoko Shimahara, 35, who retired following January's Osaka International Women's Marathon, announced that she is expecting her first child.  The baby is due in December, following which Shimahara hopes to make a return to competition.  Shimahara is married to 2008 Hokkaido Marathon winner Masaru Takamizawa, the head coach at Nagano's famed Saku Chosei High School.

Katayama Runs World-Leader at Lake Saroma 100 km; Women's Champ Mochizuki Wins 50 km Overall

by Brett Larner

Japan's premier ultramarathon, the Lake Saroma 100 km and 50 km, saw its 27th running on Sunday, June 24. The 100 km was largely a battle of familiar faces on both the men's and women's sides, as national team stalwart and 2011 4th-placer Yoshikazu Hara moved up to take the win over last year's runner-up Hideo Nojo in 6:33:32.  Nojo improved on last year's mark but was still over two minutes behind Hara, running 6:35:52.

In the women's race defending champion Naomi Ochiai was only 4th in 7:56:42, but 2011 runner-up  Shiho Katayama took over 20 minutes off her time from last year to win in a world-leading 7:33:38.  Last year's 50 km division winner and former corporate marathoner Yuka Ezaki made a good transition to the 100 km distance, finishing 5th in 8:04:02.

The most surprising action came in the 50 km, where 25-year-old Chiyuki Mochizuki (Canon AC Kyushu), the two-time Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon women's division winner, outran me…

Complicated Personnel Problems Ensnare Tokyo Marathon Foundation Chair Succession

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/f-sp-tp0-20120620-970454.html

translated by Mika Tokairin and Brett Larner

At a special meeting of the Tokyo Marathon Foundation last week at Tokyo City Hall, complexities arose which prevented the selection of a new chairperson alongside the election of other board members.  The Foundation, which came into existence in 2010, has been headed by Japanese Federation advisor Hiroaki Chosa in a position with a term of two years.

The Federation and Tokyo Metropolitan Government each recommended nine different candidates to succeed Chosa in his position, all of whom were rejected by the selection committee.  The twenty-one Foundation board members who were not among those nominated for the chairperson's position did succeed in determining the new temporary vice-chairperson.

It appears that this exceptional perplexity was the result of a power struggle within the Foundation between the Federation and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.  To…

Fujiwara 29:08.00 and 29:00.98 in Shibetsu

by Brett Larner

Somewhat usually, all of Japan's major track action this weekend took place on Saturday.  The biggest meet of the day was the first in the Hokuren Distance Challenge series, held in Shibetsu, Hokkaido.  London Olympics men's marathon team member Arata Fujiwara (Miki House) made news by running both the A and B heats of the men's 10000 m with less than six minutes in between.  Fujiwara won the B-heat in 29:08.00, then ran 29:00.98 in the A-heat where he placed 5th.  With new half marathon and marathon PBs of 1:01:34 and 2:07:48 behind him earlier this year, Fujiwara's three-year-old 10000 m PB of 28:41.05 is no doubt up for renewal whenever he wants it.  Fujiwara will run next weekend's Sapporo International Half Marathon as another tuneup for the London Olympics.

Kenyan Alex Mwangi (Team YKK) won the 10000 m A-heat in 28:12.47 over 2011 World Championships marathoner Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota), who took the runner-up position in 28:40.19.  Kenyans

All Three Olympic Marathon Women Share Altitude Training With "A Feeling of Tension"

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2012/06/23/kiji/K20120623003526230.html

translated by Brett Larner

The three members of the London Olympics women's marathon team, Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya), Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu) and Yoshimi Ozaki (Team Daiichi Seimei) held a joint workout open to the media at 2100 m altitude in Flagstaff, Arizona on June 22.  "We ran with a healthy feeling of tension," said Shigetomo, her satisfaction with the workout evident.

On this day the women ran 30 km on a one-way 5 km loop around a lake, covering the distance in around two hours.  Her corporate team regularly using Flagstaff as an altitude training base, Kizaki commented, "With three of us here we can really focus well," giving a favorable evaluation of the joint Olympic training camp's worth.  Ozaki said, "I hope we all target the top positions [at the Olympics]."

All three women's marathon Olympians will be making their Olympic debuts, and likewise th…

Shota Iizuka Ready for Olympic Debut

http://sankei.jp.msn.com/sports/news/120622/oth12062217300007-n1.htm

translated by Brett Larner



Shota Iizuka's big breakthrough, anchoring Chuo University to a 4x100 m national collegiate record 38.54 as a first-year at the 2010 Kanto Regional University Track & Field Championships.

Chuo University held a send-off party for its three Olympic team members in Hachioji, Tokyo on June 22.  200 m World Junior Champion Shota Iizuka (20) told the audience, "I want to show how competitive I can be internationally, and I'm going to set a new PB," showing his passion and enthusiasm for the sport.

All three of Chuo's athletes will be making their Olympic debuts.  400 m hurdler Tetsuya Tateno (20) showed his apprehension as he said, "I think it's going to be more stressful than I can imagine right now, but I want to show how focused I can be under tough circumstances."  Freestyle swimmer Chiaki Ishibashi (21) commented, "Everyone there will be really goo…

Ndungu With Two Meet Records in 22 Hours at Hokkaido H.S. Regionals

by Brett Larner

First-year Charles Ndungu (Sapporo Yamanote H.S.), the first-ever Kenyan to grace the Hokkaido high school regional circuit, continues to carve a place for himself in the record books.  Running in typhoon conditions June 20 he set a six-second meet record of 14:27.98 in the qualifying heats of the 5000 m at the Hokkaido Regional H.S. Track & Field Championships, winning his heat by well over a minute.  Twenty-two hours later he returned to take another thirty seconds off his own record with a new mark of 13:57.81 in the final.  Second through fifth succeeded in getting within a minute of Ndungu, led by senior Fusanosuke Araya (Otani Muroran H.S.) in 14:51.08.

Next month Ndungu will travel to the National H.S. Championships, where he will face his first real competition since arriving in Japan this spring, including fellow Kenyans Jeremiah Karemi (Toyokawa H.S.), John Gathaiya (Sera H.S.), John Maina (Aomori Yamada H.S.) and Hiram Ngatia (Sendai Ikuei H.S.).

2012 Hok…

Mathathi Headlines 2012 Sapporo International Half Marathon Elite Field

By Brett Larner

The organizers of the 2012 Sapporo International Half Marathon have released the elite invited field of eight men and eight women for this year's 55th running, scheduled for July 1.  The 1:30 p.m. start time in recent years has meant slower times, but Sapporo remains Japan's deepest summer road race and always delivers.

At the top of the men's field is Kenyan great Martin Mathathi (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC), who set a searing course record of 58.56 on the aided Great North Run course last fall.  Sapporo will be Mathathi's next step along a course to a planned marathon debut at this December's Fukuoka International Marathon.  Alongside him are 2011 Fukuoka winner Josphat Ndambiri (Kenya/Team Komori Corp.), national record holder Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku), and London Olympic marathoners Arata Fujiwara (Miki House) and Ryo Yamamoto (Team Sagawa Express), both of whom set half marathon bests at February's Marugame International Half Marathon.

Kawauchi 2:51:45 CR at Okinoshima 50 km Ultra

complete results coming soon

by Brett Larner

Marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) ran 2:51:45 at the hot and hilly Okinoshima 50 km Ultramarathon on June 17, taking more than half an hour off the CR.  Last year Kawauchi led Okinoshima on a slightly faster course record pace before collapsing shortly before the finish line and being taken to a hospital.  Kawauchi, whose father was born on the island of Okinoshima, told JRN after the race, "It was hotter than last year, but I finished."

Update:Click here for a photo of the start via the Asahi Shimbun Digital site.

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

High School Regional Track Championships Results - 33 Girls Under 9:30

by Brett Larner 

 High school track continued along the road to next month's National Championships with a nationwide round of regional championships this weekend.  Thirty-three girls across the country broke the 9:30 mark over 3000 m, with the fastest time of the weekend going to Kenyan Mary Waithira (Sendai Ikuei H.S.), who set an impressive meet record of 9:00.85 at the Tohoku Regionals meet over Kenyan rival Rosemary Wanjiru (Aomori Yamada H.S.), who ran 9:07.44.  The fastest performance by a Japanese girl came at the South Kanto Regionals meet, where Maki Izumida (Hakuoh Joshi H.S.) won in 9:17.74.  All but three regions featured winning times under 9:30.

Boys' performances were less noteworthy, but in the Tokai Region 5000 m Kenyan Jeremiah Karemi (Toyokawa H.S.) set a meet record of 13:52.51.  Charles Ndungu (Sapporo Yamanote H.S.) also set a meet record in the Hokkaido Region 5000 m, running 13:57.81.  Both boys' and girls' results were somewhat diminished by t…

Olympic Marathoner Nakamoto Aiming to Be "Top Japanese Man"

http://www.nishinippon.co.jp/nsp/item/307872

translated by Brett Larner

London Olympics marathon team member Kentaro Nakamoto held a public practice session June 15 near his sponsor Yasukawa Denki's headquarters in Kita-Kyushu.  With his training going very smoothly, Nakamoto spoke enthusiastically as he said his goal for August's main event is, "To be the top Japanese man.  Making top eight is also a goal."

In late May Nakamoto ran a 10 km race in London along parts of the same course the Olympic Marathon will follow.  The course is loaded with sharp curves and cobblestones and is definitely tough, but, he said with confidence, "Every summer I train somewhere with a lot of hills, so if I train the way I do every year it'll be fine."  This summer Nakamoto will do much of his training in Hokkaido and Oita to get ready for the Olympic marathon.

Translator's note: Nakamoto was a college teammate of the fastest man on the Japanese Olympic marathon squad,

Olympic Marathon Women's "Team Japan" Leaves for Flagstaff

http://sportsnavi.yahoo.co.jp/other/athletic/headlines/20120614-00000047-dal-spo.html

translated by Brett Larner

London Olympic marathoners Yoshimi Ozaki (Team Daiichi Seimei) and Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya) left from Tokyo's Narita Airport on June 14 for group training in Flagstaff, Arizona.  The third team member, Ryoko Kizaki(Team Daihatsu) met them after flying up from Osaka's Itami Airport.  It will be the first time all three members of an Olympic team have trained together prior to the Olympics.

Ozaki, the senior member of the team, said, "We're going into this Olympics as Team Japan, and we're going to be competitive.  Having this opportunity to work together is going to motivate us as we get in some great training."  Shigetomo added, "It's the same people I'll be racing with, so I think it's going to be a good training camp."

Federation Announces Strict Qualifying Times for 2013 World Championships Team

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/f-sp-tp0-20120612-966393.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Rikuren, the Japanese athletics federation, announced on June 12 the criteria for selection for Japan's team for next year's Moscow World Championships.  To encourage Japanese athletes to get faster, the qualification times announced for the marathon are far higher than in previous years, while track and field events will see their first-ever specific qualifying marks.

Five men and five women can run the marathon in Moscow.  To make the team, men must run 2:07:59 or better and women 2:23:59 or better at any of the three major domestic men's and women's marathons.  Any athlete who clears these times at one of five specified overseas races will also be a candidate for the team.

The domestic races for men are the Fukuoka International Marathon, the Tokyo Marathon and the Biwako Mainichi Marathon, while for women the races are the Yokohama International Wome…

Kyuma Twins Go 1-2 at Asian Junior Championships

http://jiji.com/jc/c?g=spo_30&k=2012061100017

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On the first day of the 15th Asian Junior Track & Field Championships, June 9-12 in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Haruka Kyuma (Tsukuba Univ.) set a meet record of 16:07.74 to win the women's 5000 m, with her twin sister Moe Kyuma (Tsukuba Univ.) taking silver.

On the second day of competition Daichi Kamino (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) and Soshi Takahashi (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) took silver and bronze in the men's 10000 m while Saki Yoshimizu (Chikushi Joshi Gakuen H.S.) claimed bronze in the women's 1500 m, Mai Nishiwaki taking 4th.

On the final day of the Championships, Kotomi Takayama won the gold medal in the women's 3000 m, Moe Kyuma returning to take 4th.  In the men's 5000 m Kota Murayama (Josai Univ.) missed gold by only 0.07 s, 2nd in 14:33.67 with Keisuke Nakatani winning bronze.

The Kyuma twins are in pale blue near the rear of the pack in the title photo above.
Click below for comple…

Japan Announces Complete London Olympics Athletics Team

by Brett Larner

Click here for JRN's complete video coverage of the 2012 Japanese Olympic Trials, 27 videos making up nearly three hours of footage.

The Japanese Federation and Olympic Committee announced the complete lineup of Japan's team of 48 athletes for this summer's London Olympics track and field events at a press conference on June 11.  The team features 11 national record holders and 18 current national champions and is young overall, with a heavy preponderance of first-time Olympians including a World Junior gold medalist, 13 collegiates and one high schooler.  The Fujitsu corporate team is overwhelmingly the best-represented, boasting 8 Olympic team members, while Chukyo University tops the collegiate list with 3 athletes on the team.  Suzuki, whose Suzuki Hamamatsu AC club team exists outside the corporate league, also has 3 Olympians.

No Olympic team selection process is free of controversial decisions, and the omission of women's 10000 m Jr. NR holder Meg…

Ebihara Gets Javelin NR, 200 m Jr. World Champ Iizuka Hits A-Standard - Japanese Olympic Trials Day Three

by Brett Larner

As with the great showdown between Genki Dean (Waseda Univ.) and Yukifumi Murakami (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) yesterday, the biggest show on the final day of the 2012 Japanese Olympic Trials came in the javelin.  Murakami's teammate Yuki Ebihara (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) unexpectedly came up with a big throw in the middle of the women's javelin competition, adding 80 cm on to her own national record to score a new NR of 62.36 m.  An A-standard mark, Ebihara led the day's haul of people meeting the Federation's standards for an assured London Olympic position.



In the men's 200 m Kei Takase (Team Fujitsu) likewise earned himself an Olympic spot, running an A-standard PB of 20.42 to take the win.  For a moment it looked as though 2012 Jr. World Champion Shota Iizuka (Chuo Univ.)  might take the win, but Takase succeeded in easing past into 1st.  Iizuka took 2nd in a large PB of 20.45 and should find himself in London.  Beijing Olympic bronze medalist Shinji Taka…

Abiko Gets NR, Five More Secure Olympic Spots - Japanese Olympic Trials Day Two

by Brett Larner

Day Two of the 2012 Japanese Olympic Trials was bracketed by two classic performances, one an Olympic-qualifying national record and the other an unforgettable duel between a World Championships medalist and the best of the next generation.  Five athletes altogether met the Federation's requirement of a win and an Olympic A-standard mark to secure their places on the London team, while another half-dozen stand a good chance of joining them.

The national record came without warning in the women's pole vault, where Tomomi Abiko (Shiga Lake Stars AC) executed a large PB to unexpectedly clear 4.40 m, a new NR by 4 cm and the first-ever Japanese woman's mark hitting the Olympic B-standard.  Abiko was short of the A-standard mark, but with no other Japanese woman qualified for the Olympics in the pole vault it is hard to see her staying home.  Less certain is the fate of women's 100 mH champion Ayako Kimura (Team Edion), who like Abiko only holds a B-standard …

Murofushi and Yoshikawa Make London Team - Japanese Olympic Trials Day One

by Brett Larner

Post-typhoon rain brought in the first day of the 96th Japanese National Track & Field Championships, doubling as the 2012 Olympic Trials, June 8th at Osaka's Nagai Stadium.  The women's 10000 m was the highlight of the day, as five-time 1500 m national champion Mika Yoshikawa (Team Panasonic) tailed favorite Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) all the way to 9000 m before dropping a 2:57 final km to break the 31:45.00 Olympic A-standard for the first time and knock 27 seconds off her PB with a new best of 31:28.71.  Prior to the Trials the Japanese federation indicated that any athlete holding an A-standard mark who won their event would be guaranteed a place on the London team, meaning Yoshikawa became the first athlete to secure her place.  2nd in 31:43.25 just below the A-standard, Fukushi is sure to join her.  A distant 3rd in 32:20.34 as she recovers from wintertime injury, 10000 m junior NR holder Megumi Kinukawa (Mizuno) has a chance of picking up the third…

2012 Japanese Olympic Trials - Sprints, Hurdles and Field Events Preview

by Brett Larner

Click here for JRN's middle and long distance preview.

Marathon team medals aside, Japan's only medals at the last Olympics and subsequent two World Championships came in events outside distance running, with the men's 4x100 m relay team winning bronze in Beijing, Yukifumi Murakami (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) taking men's javelin bronze in Berlin in 2009 and 2004 Athens Olympics men's hammer throw gold medalist Koji Murofushi (Mizuno) making a comeback for gold last summer in Daegu.  Half of the Beijing relay team, Murakami and Murofushi all return this year to the 96th Japanese National Track & Field Championships, doubling as the Olympic Trials June 8-10 at Nagai Stadium in Osaka, where they earn places on the London Olympic team if they win their events and hold an A-standard mark.

Beijing relay team member Shinji Takahira (Team Fujitsu) leads the way in the men's 200 m, where three men hold Olympic A-standard times.  His training partner Kei Tak…