Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from August, 2016

Eight Rio Olympians to Line Up at National University Track and Field Championships - Entry List Highlights

by Brett Larner

Led by men'x 4x100 m relay silver medalist Yoshihide Kiryu (Toyo Univ.), eight members of Japan's Rio de Janeiro Olympic team top the entry lists at this weekend's 85th National University Track and Field Championships in Kumagaya, Saitama.  Kiryu is entered in both the 100 m and 200 m. The men's 400 m features his Toyo University teammate Julian Walsh and Walsh's Rio 4x400 m partners Nobuya Kato (Waseda Univ.) and Takamasa Kitagawa (Juntendo Univ.).  Another Toyo Olympian, Daisuke Matsunaga, leads the men's 10000 m race walk, while Juntendo University's Kazuya Shiojiri, a last-minute add to the Rio team in the men's 3000 m steeplechase, is entered in the 5000 m and 10000 m along with the steeple.  Going for a triple of his own is Kohei Yamashita (Tsukuba Univ.) in the men's triple jump.  The only female collegiate Rio Olympian in athletics, Anju Takamizawa (Matsuyama Univ.) is set to add the 2016 national collegiate title to her res…

Kiname and Yoshida Win 30th Hokkaido Marathon

by Brett Larner

Biding his time in a race of surges, 25-year-old Ryo Kiname (Team Mitsubishi HPS Nagasaki) emerged from the pack with a surge over the last 5 km to win the 30th anniversary Hokkaido Marathon in 2:13:16.  With only two people ever having won Hokkaido sub-2:12 the large pack went through halfway in 1:05:51 before the first move came.  Scheduled to run Chicago in six weeks' time, Ryoichi Matsuo (Team Asahi Kasei) went ahead of the pack after the halfway mark, pursued by 2010 Hokkaido winner Cyrus Njui (Kenya/SEV Sports) and the Koichi Morishita-coached Yuki Oshikawa (Team Toyota Kyushu).  By 30 km they had brought Matsuo back into the fold just in time for the next move to come from an unlikely source, 22-year-old Kaito Koitabashi (Team Konica Minolta) with a PB of just 2:32:01.  The debuting Takafumi Kikuchi (Team SGH Group) ran Koitabashi down with Njui and Kiname just behind, and the stage was set for the race over the last 5 km.

Kiname was the strongest, dropping…

Ome 30 km to Add Public Prize Money for Men's and Women's Winners

http://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/etc/20160823-OHT1T50025.html

translated by Brett Larner

The organizers of the Ome 30 km Road Race announced this week that they will award prize money to the overall men's and women's winners at next year's 51st running on Feb. 19.  First place in both the men's and women's races will receive 500,000 yen [~$5000 USD].  Prize money is open to all entrants in the 30 km race.

The 5,000,000 yen course record purse announced for last year's 50th running remains in place.  Breaking either official course record, 1:30:21 for men and 1:39:09 for women, will earn 2,000,000 yen [~$20,000 USD].  Breaking Toshihiko Seko's 1:29:32 unofficial course record from 1981 will earn an additional 1,000,000 yen [~$10,000 USD].  The course record bonuses are only available to JAAF-registered Japanese citizens.

30th Anniversary Hokkaido Marathon Preview

by Brett Larner

Always the signal that the fall marathon season is about to begin, the Hokkaido Marathon celebrates its 30th anniversary running this Sunday. The men's field features Masanori Sakai (Team Kyudenko), a 2:09:10 performer at the 2014 Tokyo Marathon but with little success since then, and Ryo Yamamoto (Team SGH Group), a member of the 2012 London Olympics marathon squad with a 2:08:37 best from 2012. An interesting dark horse is the Barcelona Olympics silver medalist Koichi Morishita-coached 2:13 man Yuki Oshikawa (Team Toyota Kyushu), winner of February's tough Ome 30 km and 2nd at last month's Shibetsu Half Marathon.  Something of an eyebrow raiser is Kenyan Cyrus Njui (SEV Sports), who underwent a six-month suspension after testing positive at last year's Hokkaido Marathon when he took cold medicine from a local pharmacist a few days before the race.  In today's environment it's hard to imagine many races inviting back someone who tested positi…

JAAF Director of Men's Marathoning Takeshi Soh Devastated: "We Need Our Fastest Athletes to Come to the Marathon"

http://www.sanspo.com/rio2016/news/20160823/rio16082305020030-n1.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

In the Aug. 21 men's marathon on the final day of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics the Japanese men suffered a crushing defeat.  Satoru Sasaki (Team Asahi Kasei) was the top Japanese man at 16th overall, while Hisanori Kitajima (Team Yasukawa Denki) was 94th, falling below even Kenjiro Jitsui's 93rd-place finish at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.  JAAF director of men's marathoning Takeshi Soh, 63, held his head in his hands as he said, "I guess maybe all we can do is try to get our fastest runners to come to the marathon and then build up their stamina."  But with the heavy emphasis placed on running ekidens wearing sponsor company logos, training and development are left up to each individual team.  Lamenting the way they are mired in lasting, deep-rooted tradition, Soh said, "At the present time we just can't seem to do that. We need the JAAF, the corpora…

Rio Men's Marathon Tops Soccer With 23.7% Peak TV Viewership Rate

http://news.mynavi.jp/news/2016/08/22/138/

translated by Brett Larner

The Aug. 21 men's marathon on the final day of the Rio Olympics recorded peak viewership rates of 20.1% between 9:15 and 10:00 p.m., 23.7% from 10:05 to 11:00 p.m., and 18.4% between 11:05 p.m. and midnight.  Early in the morning the same day, the Brazil-Germany men's soccer final recorded rates of 11.8% between 6:24 and 7:00 a.m. and 16.8% between 7:45 and 8:55 a.m.  The evening's pre-marathon Rio Olympics Highlights program earned a 17.6% rate between 7:30 and 8:00 p.m.

Additionally, NTV's Aug. 19 women's wrestling feature from 5:00 to 7:45 a.m. that included three-time gold medalist Saori Yoshida's tearful silver medal had an 11.4% viewership rate.  The evening men's wrestling and men's 50 km race walk segment from 10:00 to 11:50 p.m. scored a 10.7% rate, with the late night synchronized swimming segment from 11:55 pm. to 1:30 a.m. rate hitting 10.5%, both segments getting into doubl…

Men's Marathon Rout - JAAF Executives Announce Resignation

http://www.nikkansports.com/olympic/rio2016/athletics/news/1698472.html

translated by Brett Larner

In the Rio de Janeiro Olympics men's marathon on Aug. 21, Satoru Sasaki (30) was the top Japanese man at 16th in 2:13:57.  Suehiro Ishikawa (36) was 36th, with Hisanori Kitajima (31) placing 94th.

At the end of athletics competition Japan's total was two medals and two top eight finishes, a total exceeding the JAAF's target one medal but falling short of its goal of five top eight finishes.  JAAF strengthening committee chairman Kazunori Asaba (55) announced that he intends to resign his position following the Rio Olympics.  Strengthening committee vice-chairman Katsumi Sakai (56) and director of men's marathoning Takeshi Soh (63) are also expected to join the exodus of resignations.  Japanese athletics will be forced to make a fresh start before the Tokyo Olympics.

Rio de Janeiro Olympics Athletics Day Ten Japanese Results

by Brett Larner

No real surprises in the men's marathon to wrap up the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.  Berlin and London Marathon winner Eliud Kipchoge (Kenya) for gold, Tokyo Marathon winner Feyisa Lilesa (Ethiopia) for silver, Galen Rupp (U.S.A.) stepping up for a medal in bronze, world champion Ghirmay Ghebreslassie (Eritrea) just missing the podium, DNFs for Kenyan and Ethiopian B-men Stanley Biwott and Tesfaye Abera, and irrelevant performances from the Japanese men.  The Japanese men finished in PB order, Satoru Sasaki and Suehiro Ishikawa hanging on to the pack for a while until fading to 16th and 36th, Hisanori Kitajima never in it and finishing 94th in 2:25:11.

Four men born outside Africa qualified for Rio with sub-2:10 times.  The Japanese men were three of them.  Sasaki was the only non-African-born athlete to have qualified sub-2:09.  This was a good team, one of the best in the field.  And yet, they were irrelevant, again.  Hats off to the less accomplished athletes like

Rio de Janeiro Olympics Athletics Day Nine Japanese Results

by Brett Larner

Men's javelin throw national champion Ryohei Arai (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) was the lone Japanese athlete in action on the last evening of Olympic athletics action.  Despite a throw of 84.16 m in the qualification round that put him at 4th going into the final, Arai choked under the pressure.  Opening with a throw of only 77.98 m, he followed with two more throws under 80 m before being cut and ultimately finished 11th of 12.  In a TV interview afterward he could do little more than sob and apologize to everyone who supported him.  His underperformance means that two Japanese men must make the top eight in the marathon for the Japanese athletics squad to meet the JAAF's total targeted number of medal and top eight placings, a tall order.

Rio de Janeiro Olympics
Aug. 20, 2016
click here for complete results

Men's Javelin Throw Final
1. Thomas Rohler (Germany) - 90.30
2. Julius Yego (Kenya) - 88.24
3. Keshorn Walcott (Trinidad and Tobago) - 85.38
-----
11. Ryohei Ara…

Rio de Janeiro Olympics Athletics Day Eight Japanese Performances

by Brett Larner

Empty-handed so far despite strong showings by the rest of the Japanese Olympic team, the eighth day of athletics at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics finally brought Japan two medals, one controversial, one beautiful.

In the men's 50 km race walk, Koichiro Morioka was out of the front-end action early, while Takayuki Tanii and Hirooki Arai were part of a nine-man chase group behind breakaway leader Yohann Diniz of France.  Tanii fell off the pace, but Arai stayed up front as the pack dwindled, then overtook Diniz.  In 3rd behind Beijing World Championships gold medalist Matej Toth (Slovakia) and London Olympics gold medalist Jared Tallent (Australia) in the final stages of the race, Arai was caught by Canada's Evan Dunfee.  With 1 km to go, Arai made a move to retake Dunfee.  As he passed he bumped Dunfee hard; Dunfee seemed to lose his balance, then a few seconds later appeared to cramp up.  Arai pulled away for bronze by 14 seconds, Dunfree coming through in a na…

Rio de Janeiro Olympics Athletics Day Seven Japanese Results

by Brett Larner

Japan's top two decathletes, Suzuki Hamamatsu AC teammates Keisuke Ushiro and Akihiko Nakamura, wrapped up their Rio Olympics with good second day performances to move up through the rankings.  24th and 25th after the first day of competition, Ushiro advanced to 20th, just shy of the 8000 point mark.  Nakamura won his 1500 m heat by over 10 seconds in 4:18.37 to pick up 823 points and move up to 22nd.

But the bigger news was in the men's 4x100 m heats, where the young Japanese team of Ryota Yamagata (Seiko), Shota Iizuka (Mizuno), Yoshihide Kiryu (Toyo Univ.) and Asuka Cambridge (Dome) lopped 0.35 seconds off the Japanese national record and 0.14 off China's minutes-old Asian record to win its heat in 37.68 over a Bolt-and Blake-less Jamaican squad.  With the U.S.A. and Canada also not running some of their A-listers Japan's time ranked it 2nd going into the final just 0.03 behind the U.S. team. Anticipation is high for Japan's first sprint relay O…

Rio de Janeiro Olympics Athletics Day Six Japanese Results

by Brett Larner

Japanese athletes were thin on the ground on the sixth day of athletics at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.    Men's javelin national champion Ryohei Arai (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) threw 84.16 m on his first qualifying round throw to make the final, the Japanese performance of the day, short and sweet.  His Suzuki teammates Akihiko Nakamura and Keisuke Ushiro ended the first day of the decathlon ranked near the bottom of the field, Nakamura 24th with 3899 points and Ushiro 25th with 3886.

On the track in the men's 5000 m heats, 10000 m national record holder Kota Murayama (Team Asahi Kasei) echoed his run in the 10000 m final.  Ranked 17th of 25 in Heat One, Murayama ran up front early with Richard Ringer (Germany) before fading to 22nd in 14:26.72.  5000 m national record holder Suguru Osako (Nike Oregon Project) was ranked 8th of 26 on PB in Heat Two, giving him a chance of becoming only the second Japanese man post-war to make an Olympic 5000 m final. Osako has lost…

Rio de Janeiro Olympics Athletics Day Five Japanese Results

by Brett Larner

20-year-old Miyuki Uehara (Team Daiichi Seimei) became only the second Japanese woman ever to qualify for an Olympic 5000 m final, boldly fruntrunning her heat to make it through on the fifth day of athletics competition at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.  Just 6th at June's National Championships, her 15:21.40 PB was enough to put her on the Olympic team over three athletes ahead of her without the Olympic standard.  Pre-race her coach Sachiko Yamashita, the 1991 Tokyo World Championships marathon silver medalist and 1992 Barcelona Olympics marathon 4th-placer, told her simply, "Be aggressive."  Uehara took that to heart.

Rocketing out at sub-15 pace close to the Japanese national record while the rest of the field completely ignored her, she quickly had a lead of at least 50 m. It's been relatively common in recent years to see Japanese runners frontrun on the track at world-level championships but rarely so dramatically.  Leading past 3000 m without …

Rio de Janeiro Olympics Athletics Day Four Japanese Results

by Brett Larner

National record holder Daichi Sawano (Team Fujitsu) was the lone Japanese athlete in action in a final on Day Four of athletics competition at the Rio de Janeiro, waiting out heavy rain before getting started in the men's pole vault.  Sawano easily cleared 5.50 m on his first attempt but struggled at 5.65 m, seeming to clear it on his third attempt but brushing the bar just enough to be eliminated.  His 7th-place overall finish in the final checks only the second box in the JAAF's modest goal of one medal and five top eight placings in Rio, a goal that at this point looks tough to achieve despite widespread Japanese success in a variety of other sports.

National champion Keisuke Nozawa (Mizuno) blasted a 48.62 PB to win Heat 4 of the men's 400 m hurdles, frontrunning the entire race to make the semifinals.  Teammate Yuki Matsushita (Mizuno) was the first non-qualifier in 49.60.  In one of two men's 110 m hurdles heats run as heavy rain set in, national …

Rio de Janeiro Olympics Athletics Day Three Japanese Results

by Brett Larner

After biding her time throughout the race, two-time Nagoya Women's Marathon winner Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain) made the move that decided the medal winners in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics women's marathon.  Having lost to Mare Dibaba (Ethiopia) in a sprint finish at last year's Beijing World Championships, Kirwa went for a long surge that shook it down to a race between her, Dibaba and London Marathon winner Jemima Sumgong (Kenya).  Kirwa read Dibaba right, getting away from her in the long straight to the finish, but Sumgong read them both better.  4th in Beijing, Sumgong made a last push to score Kenya's first-ever women's marathon gold.  The three medalists came through 26 seconds apart, Sumgong's 2:24:04 the third-fastest winning time in the Olympic women's marathon's nine-race history. Another 17 seconds back, Tirfi Tsegaye (Ethiopia) held off second-half agente provocatrice Volha Mazuronak (Belarus) by one second for 4th, Mazuronak seem…

Rio de Janeiro Olympics Athletics Day Two Japanese Results

by Brett Larner

Day two of athletics at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics brought high hopes for Japanese men's long distance with a talented 10000 m squad led by national record holder Kota Murayama (Team Asahi Kasei).  But in a familiar sight to anyone who remembers the 10000 m at last year's Beijing World Championships, Murayama and Beijing last-placer Yuta Shitara (Team Honda) were out of the action before it even started.  Murayama sank to 30th of 32 finishers in 29:02.51 with Shitara, who lost to Murayama's twin brother Kenta in Beijing, a few strides ahead in 28:55.23 for 29th.

Just lapping Murayama in the final meters, U.S.-based 10000 m national champion Suguru Osako (Nike Oregon Project) ran 27:51.94, the third-fastest ever by a Japanese man at the Olympics, for 17th to handily beat his pre-race ranking of 23rd in the field.  Osako held on to the lead group long into the race and kept pushing with almost even first and second half splits, kicking in the home straight …

Rio de Janeiro Olympics Athletics Day One Japanese Results

by Brett Larner

With the rest of the Japanese national team doing well, ranked 3rd behind the U.S.A. and China in the  medal count at the end of the first week of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, members of its athletics squad face modest expectations of one medal and five top eight finishes, the medal expected to come somewhere between the men's 4x100 m relay, the women's marathon and the men's 20 km and 50 km race walks.  No dice in the 20 km on the first day of athletics competition.  Toyo University student Daisuke Matsunaga was the best of the Japanese men at 7th in 1:20:22, 45 seconds out of the medals but, on the upside, scoring one of the JAAF's hoped-for top eight placings.

No such luck in the world record-breaking women's 10000 m.  With national champion Ayuko Suzuki a scratch it fell to her junior Japan Post teammate Hanami Sekine and Yuka Takashima (Shiseido) to try to make a dent.  Both ran the second-fastest times of their careers to date, Takashima missi…

Japanese Olympic Long Distance Event Rankings

by Brett Larner

Entry lists for track and field events at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics were publicly released yesterday on the IAAF website.  Start lists are due to be released later this week and are bound to include scratches.  Based on the current entry lists, below are Japanese long distance athletes' ranking in their events by best time within the Olympic qualifying window.  Rankings will be revised based on updated start lists.

Ranked 5th in the women's marathon field of 160, Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) looks like Japan's best chance at a distance medal, with 8th-ranked Tomomi Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei) an outside contender.  Ranked 9th in the women's 10000 m, Ayuko Suzuki (Team Japan Post) is the only other Japanese athlete in the top 10 in their event.  Beating her ranking would give her the best Japanese women's 10000 m Olympic placing in 20 years.  Three other athletes, Hanami Sekine (Team Japan Post) in the women's 10000 m, Mai Ito (Team Otsuka…

Japan's Olympic Long Distance History

by Brett Larner

Outside of the marathon, Japanese distance runners have rarely made an impact at the Olympics.  Post-war, in the 10000 m only three men and two women have ever made the top eight, and the men's 5000 m, the women's 5000 m and the men's 3000 m steeplechase have seen just one Japanese athlete each make the finals.  Of those, only Michiko Shimizu made a mark with a 4th-place in the women's 5000 m at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Below are the top ten post-war Japanese men's and women's performances at the Olympics for the 3000 mSC, 5000 m, 10000 m and marathon, ranked both by placing and by time.  Click any list to enlarge.  With a talented distance squad including men's 10000 m national record holder Kota Murayama (Team Asahi Kasei), men's 5000 m national record holder Suguru Osako (Nike Oregon Project), women's 3000 mSC junior and collegiate national record holder Anju Takamizawa (Matsuyama University) and more the lists should need updat…

World U20 Bronze Medalist Wesley Ledama Breaks CR by Over One Minute at Towada Hachimantai Ekiden

by Brett Larner



Just 17 years old, 2016 Bydgoszcz World U20 Championships men's 5000 m bronze medalist Wesley Ledama of Kenya turned up at Akita's Towada Hachimantai Ekiden running for the Subaru corporate team to rock a new record on the 13.6 km First Stage.  Hammering experienced 32-year-old Ethiopian Kassa Mekashaw (Team Yachiyo Kogyo) into the ground, Ledama took almost a minute and a half off the 39:49 stage record set last year by Kenyan Charles Ndungu (Team Komori Corp.) as he handed off in 1st in 38:28.  Mekashaw likewise broke the record, next into the first exchange zone in 38:35, with Yuki Takamiya (Team Yakult A), the top Japanese man at this year's Tokyo Marathon and winner on Towada's First Stage in 2014, 3rd in 40:27.

Both Yachiyo Kogyo and Yakult ran down Subaru on the 13.4 km Second Stage, stage record holder Bernard Kimanyi (Team Yakult A) coming just 2 seconds short of Shota Kai (Team Yachiyo Kogyo) for the lead at the second exchange zone.  Shun Ino…

'Why Kenya’s 10,000m Runner, Bedan Karoki, is a Hero Even Before he Runs in Rio'

http://www.kenyanathlete.com/2016/08/why-kenyas-10000m-runner-bedan-karoki.html

Bedan Karoki runs for the Shibuya-based DeNA corporate team where he is coached by 2:07 marathoner Tomoaki Kunichika and overseen by the legendary Toshihiko Seko.  Karoki is an early morning regular on the cross-country loop in Tokyo's Yoyogi Park.

Kiryu Confident After Unofficial NR in Practice: "Feeling Good!"

http://www.sanspo.com/rio2016/news/20160805/rio16080505020012-n1.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner
note: Many thanks to a reader who pointed out an error in the translation.  Kiryu was commenting on an having run a good time in practice rather than saying they had run a good time.

In search of its first medal since the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Japanese men's 4x100 m relay team did some of its final pre-Rio sessions on Aug. 4 at Japan's Olympic training base at New Jersey's Princeton University, where it was revealed that the team had run a 37-second time, faster than the official Japanese national record of 38.03.  The team's ace, 10.01 man Yoshihide Kiryu (20, Toyo Univ.), showed complete confidence, talking openly as he said: "Even in practice we're dropping great times.  Feeling good!"

Along with Kiryu, the team includes 100 m stars Ryota Yamagata (24, Seiko) and Asuka Cambridge (23, Dome), all three targeting Japan's first-ever sub-10, pl…

From Hakone to the Olympics

by Brett Larner

The Hakone Ekiden is Japan's biggest, most prestigious sporting event, a two-day road relay with twenty university teams of ten men each running roughly a half marathon that pulls in tens of millions of viewers on live TV and along the 210 km+ course.  University men focus on Hakone above all else.  Jason Lawrencea New Zealand runner who took part in Josai University's summer training camp for Hakone, wrote, "For most team members if not all, Hakone is the pinnacle of their careers and it's what they think about 24/7."

The media and the public love the catchphrase 箱根から世界へ, from Hakone to the World, Hakone's role as a springboard to the World Championships and, ultimately, the Olympics.  But at the same time there is frequent criticism that Hakone has grown too big, too popular, that the focus Lawrence cites is a distraction from prioritizing the Olympics as a career goal.  This line of criticism suggests that the very best young talent, the…

Japan's Rio de Janeiro Olympics Distance Roster - Profiles

by Brett Larner

Japan's long distance roster at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics features 16 athletes from 10 corporate teams and 2 universities, with athletes entered in the men's and women's 3000 m steeplechase, 5000 m, 10000 m and marathon.  Below are profiles of each member of the long distance squad.  Click here for a detailed look at the Hakone Ekiden histories of the 7 men on the Rio team.

Kayoko Fukushi (34, Wacoal)
Women's Marathon

PB: 2:22:17 (Osaka Women's 2016) - all-time JPN #7

Last five races:
1st, 13:35 - Avery Brewing Company 4 km, Boulder, USA, 7/4/166th, 1:12:04 - Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon, Gifu, JPN, 5/15/161st, 2:22:17 - Osaka International Women's Marathon, Osaka, JPN, 1/31/1612th, 35:34 - National Corporate Women's Ekiden Third Stage (10.9 km), Sendai, JPN, 12/13/152nd, 32:22 - Princess Ekiden Third Stage (10.3 km), Munakata, JPN, 10/25/15 Fukushi is a multiple national record holder and the bronze medalist in the marathon at the 2013 Moscow Wor…