Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Karoki to Transfer Nationality to Japan

http://www.fnn-news.com/news/headlines/articles/CONN00289305.html
http://dena.com/running/news/2015/04/04-01.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Karoki and Seko backstage before the announcement.

In the wake of Monday's Japan Industrial Track and Field Association press conference formally announcing the corporate federation's new Project Exceed 100 million yen [~$1 million USD at normal exchange rates] bonus program for a new Japanese marathon national record in the lead-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the DeNA corporate team held a press conference Tuesday at the DeNA offices in Shibuya, Tokyo to announce that its star runner, 2015 World Cross Country Championships silver medalist Bedan Karoki, has filed the necessary paperwork to transfer his citizenship from Kenya to Japan.  "Please look kindly upon me as I strive to bring Japan gold," Karoki said.

Appearing at the press conference alongside Karoki were DeNA CEO Isao Moriyasu, executive head coach Toshihiko Seko and assistant coach Tomoaki Kunichika.  Moriyasu told members of the media, "Karoki has lived in Japan for nearly ten years, graduated from a Japanese high school, recently passed the highest level of the JLPT Japanese Language Proficiency Test, and is a productive member of our team, company and society.  A large part of DeNA's innovative workforce is made up of talented, hardworking immigrants, people who now make up a significant percentage of Japanese society.  It is time that we rethink what it means to be Japanese.  DeNA prides itself on its forward thinking and cutting edge innovation and we are likewise proud to take this step and welcome Karoki as one of our own."

Seko commented, "There is a great deal of talk that we need to look to what the U.S.A. is doing right in order to win medals.  Most of their best athletes are immigrants, and their success has motivated their best native-born athletes to try harder.  Looking at that example it's easy to see that the time is right to take this step.  Karoki is the most talented athlete I have ever coached.  I hope that he will be able to achieve what neither I nor any of the others I have coached were able to do and win an Olympic marathon medal for Japan."

Kunichika discussed Karoki's development plan, saying, "The ultimate goal will be a gold medal in the marathon at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.  If his citizenship is processed in time for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics the focus there will be on the 5000 m and 10000 m, but in any case before moving to the marathon he will work to deliver Japan's first-ever sub-13 5000 m, sub-27 10000 m and sub-hour half marathon.  We hope that other Japanese athletes will be inspired to follow his lead."

Although he will not change his name, as part of his transfer of citizenship Karoki will take a kanji reading of his birth name.  "His family name will become 黒木  [Kuroki, black tree]," revealed Seko.  "In light of his good looks we considered 美男 [Binan, handsome man] for his given name, but instead chose 美談 [Bidan, beautiful story] as we hope that by the time his story is finished it will indeed be a beautiful one."  Former Yamanashi Gakuin University star Stephen Mayaka took Japanese citizenship following his retirement, but Karoki is believed to be the first Kenyan to transfer nationality to Japan while at the height of his career.  2013 Fukuoka International Marathon winner and Osaka World Championships 10000 m bronze medalist Martin Mathathi (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) is also reported to be in the process of transferring his citizenship to Japan and will take the name 鈴木マサシ [Masashi Suzuki].

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

More Details Released on Marathon National Record Bonus Plan as Project Sponsors Sought

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2015/03/30/kiji/K20150330010082020.html

translated by Brett Larner

The Japan Industrial Track and Field Association (JITA) national corporate federation held a press conference on Mar. 30 in Tokyo to announce the establishment of its "Project Exceed" marathon development project.  Targeting the ultimate goal of marathon medals at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, new Japanese marathon national record bonus and corporate league Japanese marathon national record attempt incentive policies were revealed at the press conference.  With the Japan Business Federation coming on board in a sponsorship capacity, the JITA is looking widely to recruit a broad spectrum of sponsors.  Project Exceed is expected to get off the ground with as much of the necessary funding as possible in place following the JITA's general assembly in July and to run until the end of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

A 100 million yen bonus [~$1 million USD at normal exchange rates] will be paid to any Japanese citizen athlete whose marathon time is certified as a new Japanese national record regardless of whether or not the athlete is registered as a corporate league runner, with the athlete's coach and team being awarded a 50 million yen [$500,000] bonus if the athlete is a registered corporate league runner.  If another Japanese citizen athlete also breaks the national record in the same race, the lower-placing athlete will also receive 10 million yen [$100,000] and their coach and team 5 million yen [$50,000].

The corporate league Japanese marathon national record attempt incentive will only be paid to registered corporate league runners.  In any of a tentative seven designated domestic Japanese marathons, any corporate league Japanese citizens who run 2:06:59 or better for men or 2:21:59 or better for women will receive a 10 million yen bonus [$100,000], with their coach and team receiving 5 million yen [$50,000].  Men who run 2:07 and women who run 2:22 will also be paid 5 million yen [$50,000], their coaches and teams getting 2.5 million yen [$25,000].  The time standards for these bonuses will be reviewed every two years.

In addition to the marathon, an accompanying "Project Proceed" will offer bonuses to athletes who set records in other disciplines.  Bonus levels and other details are scheduled to be fixed later this year.

"Mr. 9.87" Kiryu Returns to Japan Saying "Next Time I'll Do It For Real"

http://www.sankei.com/sports/news/150330/spo1503300043-n1.html

translated by Brett Larner

Having run a wind-assisted 9.87 in the men's 100 m at the Texas Relays track meet in the United States, Yoshihide Kiryu (1st yr, Toyo Univ.) arrived back in Japan at Narita International Airport on Mar. 30, saying, "Next time I'll do it officially."  At the airport Kiryu was surrounded by throngs of reporters and other people on the scene, laughing as he said, "Things were pretty normal in the States, so I'm surprised to see so much buzz now that I'm back in Japan."

This season Kiryu has moved the position of his left and right feet in the starting blocks 10 cm further apart, leading to a smoother first step or two.  Of the race where he beat London Olympics 5th placer Ryan Bailey (U.S.A.) Kiryu said, "I'm feeling more familiar with what it's like overseas and picked up a little confidence that I'm not going to lose to foreign athletes."

Kiryu's coach Hiroyasu Tsuchie commented, "Running leaves an intense sensation.  Up to now he has only seen 9-second running on TV, so now that he has experienced it for himself the question is how much it is going to affect his consciousness.  This was a major step."  Thanks to a solid base of running over the winter, Kiryu said, "After the race I haven't had any pain anywhere at all."  His next race will be at the April 18 Oda Memorial Meet where he is entered in the 100 m and 200 m.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Kawauchi Wins First Running of Nerima Kobushi Half Marathon

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20150329-00000002-minkei-l13
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20150329-00000091-spnannex-spo
http://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/etc/20150329-OHT1T50062.html
http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2015/03/30/kiji/K20150330010080090.html



translated and edited by Brett Larner

The first half marathon to be held in Tokyo's Nerima ward, the Nerima Kobushi Half Marathon went off at 8:00 a.m. on Mar. 29.  Starting at Hikarigaoka Municipal Park, the course offered a tour of the area's major roads before returning to finish at the park.  With more than 90% of the course run on public roads including a section of highway passing through Nerima, the route gave runners the chance to run on roads normally closed to them.

At the opening ceremony Nerima mayor Akio Maekawa gave his support to participants, telling them, "I want to see the results of all the work you put into your running every day and hope that you have fun running this course."  Around 5000 people were entered in the race, with special guests including #1 amateur runner Yuki Kawauchi, former marathon great Mari Tanigawa and comedians Tetsu and Tomo.  Turning in a masterful solo performance, Kawauchi was first across the finish line in 1:05:39.  Still recovering fitness after a long-lasting sprain to his left ankle, Kawauchi said, "Compared to a month ago I'm able to run more now.  I'm back to about 75% of normal."  Even at that level he dropped his nearest competition in Nerima by the 2 km point.  "My result today wasn't bad," he smiled.  "One day at a time."  Kaori Yoshida, 33, won the women's race in 1:16:12.

Earlier in the morning at the U.S.A. at the Texas Relays track meet in Austin, Texas, Kawauchi's fellow Saitama prefecture resident Yoshihide Kiryu (19, Toyo University) ran a wind-assisted time of 9.87 in the men's 100 m.  Kawauchi didn't hear about Kiryu's run until after his own race but was very excited when he heard the time, saying, "He finally did it!  I had no idea."  When told that the wind reading was 3.3 m/s Kawauchi sighed, "Gah!" but sent Kiryu his encouragement, saying, "This will serve as a major stimulus for him.  Even if his time wasn't legal because of the wind, it's really important that he got the experience of running that kind of speed once.  The Asian Games [where Kiryu was a DNS due to injury] are probably an unhappy memory, but I hope that he shines at the Beijing World Championships."

Sunday, March 29, 2015

'Kiryu Clocks Wind-Assisted 9.87 in 100 m at Texas Relays'

http://www.iaaf.org/news/report/texas-relays-2015-kiryu-bromell-barber

After the race Kiryu posted the following Tweet:


This was my first 100 m race in 8 months.  The wind was a 3.3 m/s tailwind so the time wasn't legal, but I still ran 9.87, my first time achieving a 9-second time.  The time was good, but what was even better was that running against 9-second athletes I was competitive and beat them for the win.  This was just the first race of the season and I want to keep going this year without injury.  This was a great meet.  :-)
-- Yoshihide Kiryu, March 29, 2015

Saturday, March 28, 2015

World XC Championships - Japanese Results

by Brett Larner

Japan came up empty-handed at the 2015 World Cross Country Championships in Guiyang, China as its perennial best hope for a medal, its junior women's squad, could do no better than 5th.  Junior women's team leader Azusa Sumi took 16th overall, 1:07 behind winner Letesenbet Gidey of Ethiopia but still the top-placing non-African born athlete in any of the day's races along with China's Changqin Ding in the senior women's race.  Although shy of a medal the junior women still topped the Japanese team results, the junior men and senior women finishing 9th.  With only three runners in the senior men's race Japan did not field a complete team of four scorers in that event.

World Cross Country Championships
Guiyang, China, 3/28/15
click here for complete results

Junior Women's 6 km
1. Letesenbet Gidey (Ethiopia) - 19:48
2. Dera Dida (Ethiopia) - 19:49
3. Etagegn Woldu (Ethiopia) - 19:53
4. Daisy Jepkemei (Kenya) - 19:59
5. Mihret Tefera (Ethiopia) - 20:02
-----
16. Azusa Sumi (Japan) - 20:55
21. Nana Kuraoka (Japan) - 21:25
29. Wakana Kabasawa (Japan) - 21:48
32. Yuri Nozoe (Japan) - 21:55
38. Miho Shimada (Japan) - 22:12
61. Yuka Sarumida (Japan) - 22:57

Team Results
1. Ethiopia - 11
2. Kenya - 33
3. Bahrain - 52
4. Uganda - 65
5. Japan - 98

Junior Men's 8 km
1. Yasin Haji (Ethiopia) - 23:42
2. Geoffrey Kipkirui Korir (Kenya) - 23:47
3. Alfred Ngeno (Kenya) - 23:54
4. Dominic Kiptarus (Kenya) - 24:00
5. Evans Rutto Chematot (Bahrain) - 24:03
-----
35. Hiroyuki Sakaguchi (Japan) - 25:46
49. Shota Onizuka (Japan) - 26:16
55. Junnosuke Matsuo (Japan) - 26:27
61. Haruki Minatokya (Japan) - 26:34
81. Ryota Tatezawa (Japan) - 27:14
87. Fuminori Shimo (Japan) - 27:18

Team Results
1. Kenya - 19
2. Ethiopia - 33
3. Eritrea - 52
4. Bahrain - 70
5. Uganda - 76
-----
9. Japan - 200

Senior Women's 8 km
1. Agnes Jebet Tirop (Kenya) - 26:01
2. Senbere Teferi (Ethiopia) - 26:06
3. Netsanet Gudeta (Ethiopia) - 26:11
4. Alemitu Heroye (Ethiopia) - 26:14
5. Stacy Chepkemboi Ndiwa (Kenya) - 26:16
-----
23. Miho Shimizu (Japan) - 28:26
39. Mai Shoji (Japan) - 29:09
43. Erika Ikeda (Japan) - 29:17
54. Yui Fukuda (Japan) - 29:45
56. Maki Izumida (Japan) - 29:50
63. Tomoka Kimura (Japan) - 30:01

Team Results
1. Ethiopia - 17
2. Kenya - 19
3. Uganda - 101
4. China - 122
5. U.S.A. - 128
-----
9. Japan

Senior Men's 12 km
1. Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor (Kenya) - 34:52
2. Bedan Karoki Muchiri (Kenya) - 35:00
3. Muktar Edris (Ethiopia) - 35:06
4. Hagos Gebrhiwet (Ethiopia) - 35:15
5. Leonard Barsoton (Kenya) - 35:24
-----
52. Hiroki Matsueda (Japan) - 38:24
85. Kazuma Kubota (Japan) - 40:08
88. Kento Hanazawa (Japan) - 40:19

Team Results
1. Ethiopia - 20
2. Kenya - 20
3. Bahrain - 54
4. Eritrea - 91
5. Uganda - 92

(c) 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Friday, March 27, 2015

World Cross Country Championshps - Japanese Team Roster

by Brett Larner

Japan's team for this weekend's World Cross Country Championships in Guiyang, China features 21 athletes.  As always, its strongest contingent is its junior women, in this case led by 9:00.89 high schooler Azusa Sumi, undefeated since 2013, and teammate Yuka Sarumida of Toyokawa H.S.  The junior men's team features three athletes with 5000 m bests under 14 minutes including 2014 World Junior Championships team member Shota Onizuka (Omuta H.S.).

2015 Fukuoka International Cross Country Meet winner Mai Shoji (Chukyo Univ.) leads the senior women's squad which also includes her collegiate rival Maki Izumida (Ritsumeikan Univ.).  Once again this year, Japan's senior men are largely giving World Cross a miss, with only three entered versus six on the each of the other three squads.  Corporate runners are completely absent, with 2015 Hakone Ekiden winner Aoyama Gakuin University's Kazuma Kubota the biggest name of the three and Juntendo University teammates Hiroki Matsueda and Kento Hanazawa rounding out the roster.

Senior Women
Miho Shimizu (Team Hokuren) - 15:34.22 / 32:14.44
Mai Shoji (Chukyo Univ.) - 15:34.73 / 32:27.36
Maki Izumida (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 15:38.22 / 33:15.18
Tomoka Kimura (Team Univ. Ent.) - 15:44.02
Yui Fukuda (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 15:50.07
Erika Ikeda (Team Higo Ginko) - 15:54.01 / 34:06.75

Senior Men
Hiroki Matsueda (Juntendo Univ.) - 13:49.18 / 29:13.81
Kazuma Kubota (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 13:56.69 / 28:30.78
Kento Hanazawa (Juntendo Univ.) - 13:59.09 / 29:25.76

Junior Women
Azusa Sumi (Toyokawa H.S.) - 9:00.89
Yuka Sarumida (Toyokawa H.S.) - 9:08.72
Yuri Nozoe (Kamimura Gakuen H.S.) - 9:14.72
Miho Shimada (Yamanashi Gakuin Prep H.S.) - 9:15.18
Wakana Kabasawa (Tokiwa H.S.) - 9:19.84
Nana Kuraoka (Kagoshima Joshi H.S.) - 9:23.58

Junior Men
Haruki Minatoya (Akita Kogyo H.S.) - 13:57.29
Hiroyuki Sakaguchi (Isahaya H.S.) - 13:57.41 / 29:12.75
Shota Onizuka (Omuta H.S.) - 13:58.43
Fuminori Shimo (Iga Hakuho H.S.) - 14:01.59
Ryoji Tatezawa (Saitama Sakae H.S.) - 14:07.32
Junnosuke Matsuo (Akita Kogyo H.S.) - 14:11.24

(c) 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Monday, March 23, 2015

Lisbon Half Marathon Japanese Results - Noguchi and Fujiwara Fade

by Brett Larner

Marathon national record holder Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex) and newly-anointed Beijing World Championships team member Masakazu Fujiwara (Team Honda) put in an appearance at Sunday's 25th anniversary Lisbon Half Marathon.  Noguchi, who in recent years has had more DNS that starts in her scheduled races, made a rare start but proved ineffectual, opening at a conservative pace well outside the lead pack but fading badly later in the race to finish 16th in just 1:19:07.  Fujiwara, making the Beijing team off a 2:09:06 at December's Fukuoka International Marathon, started more aggressively, on track for a low 1:02 time through 10 km but struggling over the second half before finishing just outside the top 10, 11th in 1:04:10.

25th Lisbon Half Marathon
Lisbon, Portugal, 3/22/15
click here for complete results

Women
1. Rose Chelimo (Kenya) - 1:08:22
2. Sara Moreira (Portugal) - 1:09:18
3. Priscah Jeptoo (Kenya) - 1:09:21
4. Purity Cherotich Rionoripo (Kenya) - 1:10:24
5. Ana Dulce Felix (Portugal) - 1:10:27
-----
16. Mizuki Noguchi (Japan/Team Sysmex) - 1:19:07

Men
1. Mo Farah (Great Britain) - 59:32
2. Micah Kogo (Kenya) - 59:33
3. Stephen Kibet (Kenya) - 59:58
4. Idemo Guya Dola (Ethiopia) - 1:00:45
5. Edwin Kipyego (Kenya) - 1:01:48
-----
11. Masakazu Fujiwara (Japan/Team Honda) - 1:04:10

(c) 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved