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Yamamoto Leads Top Six Under 5000 m Race Walk Meet Record - National High School Championships Day Three Results

click here for five-channel live streaming of the 69th Japanese National High School Track and Field Championships

by Brett Larner

The highlight of day three of the Japanese National High School Track and Field Championships came in an unexpectedly fast and furious boys' 5000 m race walk.  After a relatively benign first qualifying heat on day two won by Ryutaro Yamamoto (Toyama Shogyo H.S.) in 21:08.49, heat two exploded with action, Hiroto Jusho (Shikama Kogyo H.S.) led the top eight under the old National High School Championships record in 20:49.39.  The bar set high, qualifiers returned a day later for the final, and again the field delivered en masse.  Yamamoto fought off Taiki Naruoka (Iga Hakuho H.S.) and Masatora Kawano (Gotemba Minami H.S.) for the win in a close race, taking 35 seconds off Jusho's short-lived national record with a new mark of 20:14.63.  The top six all beat Jusho's record, with Jusho himself almost equalling it in 20:52.94 but coming only 8th.

A…

Ejima Breaks Pole Vault High School National Record - National High School Championships Day Two Results

click here for five-channel live streaming of the 69th Japanese National High School Track and Field Championships

by Brett Larner
videos by Ekiden News

#岡山インターハイ#okayama2016
男子棒高跳 江島雅紀 5m43 3回目に成功
日本高校新記録 ★ pic.twitter.com/ddslIjs0zf — EKIDEN News (@EKIDEN_News) July 30, 2016
Back in action after his 6th-place finish at last week's World U20 Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, Masaki Ejima (Eda H.S.) cleared 5.43 m to win the 2016 National High School Track and Field Championships boys' pole vault July 30 at Okayama's City Lights Stadium.  Ejima's mark broke the meet record by 2 cm and his own high school national record set earlier this year by 1 cm.



8th in the Bydgoszcz girls' 3000 m and 2nd in June's National Championships 1500 m, Nozomi Tanaka (Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S.) was likewise back in the 1500 m.  In a tight race with teammates Hina Takahashi and Yume Goto, Tanaka tried to frontrun her way to a national title but lost to Takahashi by a slim margin in the ho…

National High School Championships Day One Results

click here for five-channel live streaming of the 69th Japanese National High School Track and Field Championships

69th National High School Track and Field Championships 
Day One Highlights
City Lights Stadium, Okayama, 7/29/16
click here for complete results

Girls' 400 m Final
1. Rin Aoki (Soyo H.S.) - 54.14
2. Minami Hatano (Tokai Prep Boyo H.S.) - 54.21
3. Airi Ikezaki (Funairi H.S.) - 54.64

Boys' 400 m Final
1. Tomohiro Kokubo (Sakuragaoka H.S.) - 46.67
2. Daichi Inoue (Tokyo H.S.) - 46.91
3. Yushi Uike (Saikyo H.S.) - 47.03

Boys' Hammer Throw Final
1. Masanobu Hattori (Amagasaki Municipal H.S.) - 64.57 m
2. Tatsuto Nakagawa (Himeji Kogyo H.S.) - 63.77 m
3. Reo Yamamoto (Kisarazu Sogo H.S.) - 63.24 m

69th National High School Track and Field Championships Start Friday

by Brett Larner



After building up through the prefectural and regional qualifying rounds, the high school track and field season hits its peak this weekend with the 69th National High School Track and Field Championships at Okayama's City Light Stadium.  Fresh back from Poland, the entry lists feature much of the Bydgoszcz World U20 Championships team including top-8 placers Naoki Kitadani (Kobe Shiritsu Kagaku Gijutsu H.S.) in the men's 400 m, Nozomi Tanaka (Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S.) and Rika Kaseda (Narita H.S.) in the women's 3000 m and Masaki Ejima (Eda H.S.) in the men's pole vault.  A notable absence is sprint sensation Abdul Hakim Sani Brown (Josai Prep H.S.), sidelined with injury earlier this season.

Watch live streaming of the National High School Track and Field Championships above.  Click here for alternate cameras.  Complete entry lists, the championships schedule and results are available in Japanese here.  Soka University Associate Professor Bruce Carrick ha…

Japan's Olympic Marathon Men Enthusiastic for Rio: "We're Ready to Take on the World"

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2016/07/27/kiji/K20160727013046870.html
http://www.jiji.com/jc/article?k=2016072700768&g=spo

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Training in Kushiro, Hokkaido in preparation for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, Japan's three marathon men Satoru Sasaki (Team Asahi Kasei), Hisanori Kitajima (Team Yasukawa Denki) and Suehiro Ishikawa (Team Honda) appeared at a press conference July 27 at a Kushiro hotel.  Ishikawa was enthusiastic as he said, "We're not going there just to take part.  We're ready to take on the world."

All three men wore the flashy bright "Sunrise Red" national colors that represent the power of the rising sun.  The oldest-ever Japanese man to run the Olympic marathon, Ishikawa said that his goal is to do better than the 6th-place finish by Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki) at the London Olympics.  With two wins in his three marathons to date, Nakamoto's training partner Kitajima commented, &q…

The Tokyo Marathon Course Change - Masuzoe's Only Achievement as Governor? An Editorial

http://www.zakzak.co.jp/society/domestic/news/20160726/dms1607261200010-n1.htm

an editorial by Minoru Nasu, Sankei Newspaper photo editor
translated by Brett Larner

"Tokyo Station will form the stunningly picturesque backdrop for the new finish line."  With these words Tokyo governor Yoichi Masuzoe confidently announced the change of the Tokyo Marathon course at a press conference on March 29.

The Sankei Newspaper is one of the Tokyo Marathon's sponsors.  Being in charge of photography, I set up an on-site meeting with representatives of the Tokyo Marathon Foundation to discuss issues like the shooting locations in the new finish area so that our reporters and photographers would be able to do their jobs smoothly.  "That's so easy for you to say, Mr. Masuzoe..."  That was my immediate reaction when I heard the news about the course change.  There are a lot of constraints on marathons held on public roads, and things do not proceed as planned.

Runners crossing…

Obituary: Concerning the Passing of Fujitsu Athlete Johana Maina

http://sports.jp.fujitsu.com/cs/news/detail/160723010226/1.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner
click here for more information on Maina's passing

Fujitsu men's long distance team member Johana Maina complained of not feeling well while on vacation back in his home country Kenya.  He was taken to a hospital but passed away suddenly on July 21, 2016.  We are deeply grateful for the kindness he showed in life and wish here to humbly pay our respects to his accomplishments.

Johana Maina, athlete
Dec. 24 1990 - July 21, 2016

Personal Bests
5000 m: 13:25.24 (2015)     10000 m: 27:26.92 (2015)     half marathon: 1:01:19 (2016)

Major Accomplishments
2012: 1st, Sendai International Half Marathon, 1:01:34
2014: 1st, Sendai International Half Marathon, 1:01:43
          2nd, Kumanchi 30 km Road Race, 1:29:55
2015: 1st, Sendai International Half Marathon, 1:02:33
          2nd, Hachioji Long Distance 10000 m, 27:26.92 - 19th in world in 2015
2016: 2nd, National Corporate Half Marathon, …

Mai Ito Wins Hot and Sunny Shibetsu Half Marathon in Final Tuneup for Rio Olympics Marathon

http://dd.hokkaido-np.co.jp/sports/sports/marathon/1-0296687.html
http://news.tbs.co.jp/newseye/tbs_newseye2828867.html
http://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/s/article/2016072401001248.html
http://dd.hokkaido-np.co.jp/sports/sports/marathon/1-0296700.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The 30th anniversary Suffolkland Shibetsu Half Marathon  was held July 24 in Shibestu, Hokkaido.  Top-level Japanese athletes and amateur runners alike braved blazing sunshine to give it their best on the JAAF-certified course.  A total of 2136 runners including a large number of corporate league runners from Toyota and the Kansai region took part.  Special guest runners included ski jumper Sara Takanashi and the winner of the first Shibetsu Half women's race, Eriko Asai.

In the men's half marathon, Kokushikan University assistant coach James Mwangi won by a second over Yuki Oshikawa (Team Toyota Kyushu) in a course record 1:03:22.  Rio de Janeiro Olympics men's marathon team member Suehiro Ishikawa

A Step Backward From Eugene - Final Japanese Tally From World U20 Championships

by Brett Larner



Japan's final score at the Bydgoszcz World U20 Championships was relatively modest, one silver medal, one bronze and fourteen other top eight placings, down significantly from the 2014 Eugene World Junior Championships where Japanese athletes earned one gold, three silver and two bronze medals along with fifteen other top eight finishes.  Both medals this year came with new Asian Junior Records attached, Takumu Furuya running 13.31 for bronze in the men's 110 m hurdles and the men's 4x100 m relay coming just shy of the U.S.A. in 39.01 for silver.  Five of the other top eight placers set new PBs, but by and large they were at the bottom end of their finals; apart from the medalists only two of the fourteen top eight placers made the top five in their events, Tatsuhiro Yamamoto with a 5th place in the men's 400 m hurdles and a 4th-place finish by the men's 4x400 m relay.

There were several close calls with a number of unlucky 9th-place finishes, but …

World U20 Championships - Day Three Japanese Results

by Brett Larner



The third day of the World U20 Championships was a good one for the Japanese contingent. Just behind PB runs from Americans Marcus Krah and Amere Lattin, Takumu Furuya ran an Asian junior record of 13.31 for bronze in the men's 110 m hurdles, Japan's first medal of the Championships.  Of the ten other athletes in action today, eight advanced through their heats and semi-finals.



Naoki Kitadani and Kazuki Matsukiyo lead the way in the men's 400 m semis, both running PBs to make the final.  Jun Yamashita also delivered a PB in the opening round heats of the men's 200 m, running 20.89 for 3rd in Heat 4 to advance along with Wataru Inuzuka, 4th in Heat 1.  Yamashita ran another PB of 20.67 in the semi-finals to make it to the final, but Inuzuka was cutoff after finishing only 6th in 21.40.

Along with Furuya the other men's hurdlers were also strong, both Tatsuhiro Yamamoto and Yoshiro Watanabe advancing in the 400 m hurdles with Watanabe winning his heat…

World U20 Championships - Day Two Japanese Results

by Brett Larner



In a super-fast women's 3000 m that saw winner Beyenu Degefa (Ethiopia) break the World U20 Championships record in 8:41.76 and silver and bronze medalists Dalila Abdulkadir Gosa (Bahrain) and Konstanza Klosterhalfen (Germany) run national junior records, Japan's Nozomi Tanaka ran a PB of 9:01.16 for 8th, well out of the medals but ticking another box on the JAAF's target number of top eight finishes.  Wakana Kabasawa was next, 9th in 9:10.20.  The daughter of sub-2:30 amateur marathoner Chihiro Tanaka, Tanaka came in at #7 on the all-time Japanese junior list, only the second runner after 1500 m national record holder Yuriko Kobayashi to make the all-time lists for both 1500 m and 3000 m.  In the men's long jump final Yuki Hashioka came up short of a top eight placing, jumping 7.31 m for 10th.



The day's biggest success came from hurdler Takumu Furuya, who ran a PB 13.40 to win his 110 mH heat before returning to win again in the semi-finals in 13.…

World U20 Championships - Day One Japanese Resuts

by Brett Larner

The World U20 Championships got moving Tuesday in Bydgoszcz, Poland with medals handed out in three events.  In the women's 10000 m race walk 2015 national high school champ Yukiko Mizoguchi delivered a PB 46:19.49 for 8th, about 45 seconds out of the medals but within the JAAF's much-loved top eight target.  Zhenxia Ma (China) took gold in 45:18.45, with 3rd placers Yehualeya Beletew (Ethiopia) and 4th-placer Valeria Ortuno (Mexico) scoring area records.  An East African making the podium has to be shaking the race walk world.



Japan-based Rodgers Chumo Kwemoi (Kenya), a second-year pro with the Aisan Kogyo corporate team, ran a meet record 27:25.23 to take gold in the men's 10000 m, just outkicking Aron Kifle (Eritrea) and Jacob Kiplimo (Uganda) with Kifle setting a national junior record.  Two athletes each from Kenya, Eritrea, Uganda and Ethiopia made up the top eight, with Tokai University first-year Hayato Seki (Japan) running a credible 28:57.76 for 9…

Japanese Team Roster for World U20 Championships

by Brett Larner

Japan sends a team of 44 athletes, 14 women and 30 men, to the rebranded World Junior Championships, hereout known as the World U20 Championships, this week in Bydgoszcz, Poland. 2015 World Youth Championships women's javelin throw gold medalist Haruka Kitaguchi (Nihon Univ.) is Japan's best chance for a medal, the only woman in the field to have thrown over 60 m.  Her teammate Mikako Yamashita (Kyushu Kyoritsu Univ.) looks like another medal contender, her 58.59 m ranking her 3rd in the javelin field.  The team features the current national high school champions in fourteen events, a few including Kitaguchi having made the top three at last month's Japanese National Championships and many ranking in the top ten in their events at World U20.  5th in the men's' 3000 m at last year's World Youth Championships, Hyuga Endo (Gakuho Ishikawa H.S.) doesn't fit any of those categories, but with new 3000 m and 5000 m bests of 8:01.95 and 13:48.13 sin…

Japanese Marathon Teams Face Difficult Situation in Rio Olympics With Tough Competition and Deteriorating Security

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2016/07/15/kiji/K20160715012969550.html
http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2016/07/15/kiji/K20160715012969530.html
http://www.nikkansports.com/olympic/rio2016/athletics/news/1679246.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Japan's Rio de Janeiro marathon teams face a tough challenge in the Olympic races, the women's race scheduled for Aug. 14 and the men's race for the final day of the Games, 9:30 a.m. on Aug. 21 Japan time.

For the men, top eight looks like a realistic goal.  Among the three, Satoru Sasaki (Team Asahi Kasei), Hisanori Kitajima (Team Yasukawa Denki) and Suehiro Ishikawa (Team Honda), Sasaki has the fastest PB at 2:08:56.  In comparison, Kenyan Olympic team member Eliud Kipchoge won April's London Marathon in an all-time #2 time of 2:03:05.  The gap in ability between the Africans and the Japanese men is enormous.

Among the women, a three-time Olympian on the track, Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) is one of Japan…

JAAF Sets Modest Goal of 1 Medal and 5 Top-8 for Rio: "This is Realistic"

http://www.nikkansports.com/olympic/rio2016/athletics/news/1679300.html

translated by Brett Larner

On July 15 JAAF Development Committee Chariman Kazunori Asaba announced that the JAAF's target for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics is "one medal and five top eight finishes."  The JAAF expects "at least one medal" from among the men's 4x100 m relay, 20 km race walk, 50 km race walk and women's marathon.  He cited the women's 10000 m and other events as possibilities for top eight placers.  In response to questions from reporters about why the goals were so modest Asaba answered uncomfortably, "Well, we're talking about the Olympics.  This is a realistic assessment."

Pole vault national record holder Daichi Sawano (Team Fujitsu) was named captain of the men's team, with javelin throw national record holder Yuki Ebihara (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) named women's captain.

World Record-Setting Depth in Kitami Women's 5000 m

by Brett Larner

The 2016 Hokuren Distance Challenge series wrapped up Thursday in Kitami, Hokkaido with world record-setting depth in the women's 5000 m.  Newcomer Shuru Bulo (Team Toto) led most of the race for the win in a PB 15:13.07, but the bigger news came further down the field.  In 25th place Nao Isaka (Team Hitachi) finished in 15:59.32, surpassing the 2005 Rome Golden Gala for the most women ever under 16 minutes in a single race.

The women's 3000 m also produced some news.  18-year-old Harumi Okamoto (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo), already with a 9:00.91 at age 16 to her name, became just the 11th Japanese woman to break nine minutes when she outkicked Kenyan Ann Karindi (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) for the win in 8:59.96.  19-year-old Mina Ueda (Josai Univ.) and 18-year-old Nana Kuraoka (Denso) also cleared 9:10 with new PBs.

After a big 10000 m on Monday in Abashiri the men's races were relatively quiet.  A planned 1500 m national record attempt by 5000 m national r…

Kawamoto, Sawano and Yamashita Added to Japanese Olympic Team

by Brett Larner

On July 13 the JAAF announced three additions to its team for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.  Men's 800 m national record holder Sho Kawamoto (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) and men's pole vault national record holder Daichi Sawano (Team Fujitsu) were added after clearing their respective Rio standards last weekend.  Despite fouling out at last month's National Championships, Kohei Yamashita (Tsukuba Univ.) was added in the men's triple jump after clearing the Rio standard earlier this season with a 16.85 m meet record to win the Kanto Region University Championships.

The official announcement noted that the JAAF has not yet received word from the IAAF concerning relays, where the men's 4x400 m is currently ranked 16th excluding the suspended Russia, and that relay teams would be announced at a later date.  The men's 4x100 m, made up of sprinters on the Rio team as individuals, is already qualified after finishing 5th at the IAAF World Relays.  The announce…

Yokoe and Shitara Drop Year-Leading Japanese Times and a Big Debut From 18-Year-Old Munehisa at Hokuren Distance Challenge Abashiri Meet

by Brett Larner

The third installment in Japan's midsummer Hokuren Distance Challenge time trials series took place July 11 in Abashiri, Hokkaido, the last day for athletes to turn in qualifying times for next month's Rio de Janeiro Olympics.  With the long distance squads already mostly set the only events with people seriously contending for Rio were the women's 3000 m steeplechase and men's 800 m, where National Championships runners-up Chikako Mori (Team Sekisui Kagaku) and Masato Yokota (Team Fujitsu) tried a final time to get under the 9:45.00 and 1:46.00 standards.  Both came up well short, Mori running 10:00.23 to win the steeple and Yokota just 1:49.28 for 4th in the 800 m.

Which is not to say that the day was slow overall.  With ideal conditions the distance events were fast across the board, and in both the women's 5000 m and men's 10000 m there were new year-leading Japanese marks.  Risa Yokoe (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) won the women's 5000 m in a…

Chuo University Ekiden Team Names First-Year Students Captain and Vice-Captain

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20160707-00000148-nksports-spo

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Chuo University has announced that it has appointed two first-year students as captain and vice-captain of its ekiden team, holder of the longest unbroken streak of Hakone Ekiden appearances dating back to 1925.  The team's new arrangement took effect July 3rd, with Fukuoka Prep Ohori H.S. graduate Shoma Funatsu named captain and Gakuho Ishikawa H.S. grad Kazuyoshi Tamogami vice-captain. 

Last month Chuo failed to qualify for this year's National University Ekiden.  A statement from the team explained, "This change in our leadership is a result of our performance at the National University Ekiden qualifier and is intended to help transform us into a team focused on winning.  After the qualifier most of the team shared a sense of crisis, and it can be said unequivocally that it was the tremendous enthusiasm and motivation of the first-years that roused the rest of the team…

Olympic Steepler Takamizawa Holds Public Practice Session at Matsuyama University

http://www.asahi.com/articles/ASJ753GXQJ75PFIB001.html

translated by Brett Larner

Named to the Rio de Janeiro Olympic team in the women's 3000 m steeplechase, Matsuyama University third-year Anju Takamizawa, 20, held a public practice session this week at the school's Kumanodai Field.  Takamizawa ran the steeplechase at the National Championships late last month, clearing the 9:45.00 Olympic standard to win in a meet record 9:44.22 and guarantee herself a place on the Olympic team.

At the public training session, after some light jogging and other warmups Takamizawa ran a series of 400 m intervals.  "This will be my first Olympics," she said.  "I'll be targeting my PB and hope to have the kind of run that will get me through to the final."

Hakone Stars Hattori and Isshiki to Head Outside the Mainstream

http://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/etc/20160705-OHT1T50100.html
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20160705-00000225-sph-spo

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Former teammates at 2012 National High School Ekiden champion Toyokawa H.S. and now two of the biggest stars on the Hakone Ekiden circuit, 2015 National University Half Marathon champion Tadashi Isshiki (Aoyama Gakuin University) and 2015 National University 5000 m champion Hazuma Hattori (Toyo University) are set to follow unconventional paths post-graduation.

At a press conference this week GMO Internet announced that Isshiki will join its new GMO Athletes team after his graduation next spring.  Isshiki finished as the third Japanese man overall and second university finisher in his marathon debut at February's Tokyo Marathon, running 2:11:45 to position himself as a hopeful for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.  Having received recruitment offers from ten different corporate league teams, after careful consideration Isshiki opted to j…

Kawamoto and Sawano Clear Olympic Standards

by Brett Larner

With just a few days to go until the July 11 cutoff for Rio de Janiero Olympics qualification athletes eligible to chase standards under the JAAF's abstruse selection policy have spent the last week doing just that.  Two weeks ago at the National Championships national record holder Sho Kawamoto (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) won the men's 800 m but came up short of the 1:46.00 Rio standard, running 1:46.22 in rainy conditions.  At Saturday's Nittai University Track and Field Meet in Yokohama he made it, just, winning the 800 m A-heat in 1:45.97.

The next day at the Nihon University Track and Field Meet in Tokyo's western suburbs men's pole vault national record holder Daichi Sawano (Team Fujitsu) cleared the 5.70 m Rio standard with a vault of 5.75 m on his third attempt, adding that credential to his National Championships win.  Little is for certain with the JAAF, but as 2016 national champions, Kawamoto and Sawano hitting the Rio standards within the win…

Mizuki Noguchi Marries Some Regular Guy

http://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/etc/20160706-OHT1T50244.html

translated by Brett Larner

On July 6 it was revealed that 2004 Athens Olympics women's marathon gold medalist and marathon national record holder Mizuki Noguchi, 38, has married an ordinary regular guy.  The management of her former sponsor team Sysmex commented, "It is true that she has gotten married.  However, as it is a private matter we cannot comment any further beyond that."

In addition to her Olympic gold medal, Noguchi also won the silver medal in the 2003 Paris World Championships marathon.  At the 2005 Berlin Marathon she set the still-standing Japanese national record of 2:19:12.  After sustaining an injury to her left thigh in training just before the 2008 Beijing Olympics Noguchi never again produced major results.  Following her 23rd place finish at the Nagoya Women's Marathon in March this year she announced her retirement.  According to a team spokesperson Noguchi plans to remain active at a r…

Mungara Over Kawauchi by One Second, Horie Cracks Course Record at Gold Coast Airport Marathon

by Brett Larner

One for the ages.

Mungara over Kawauchi 2:09:00 to 2:09:01 at @GCMarathon. #GCAM16pic.twitter.com/CK1yFlTsD1 — Japan Running News (@JRNHeadlines) July 3, 2016
In the men's marathon, 2 past Gold Coast Airport Marathon winners, 40+ world record holder Kenneth Mungara of Kenya and, just 2 weeks after a 50 km national record, Japan's indefatigable Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't), head to head for the last 12 km of the race.  Kawauchi, with big plans for the fall, from the gun up front behind the pacers, never relenting on his front line position.  Mungara, crafty, holding back in the pack of 11, holding back until Kawauchi set off in pursuit of a breakaway pacer just before 30 km.  30 km, unusually early for the always fast-closing Kawauchi to go to the front.  Anyone else and Mungara, top 3 in 5 of his last 6 races including 3 wins and multiple resettings of his own 40+ WR, might have let it go.  But a champ recognizes a champ.

A gap from Kawauchi, and Mun…