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Koide Protege Hitomi Niiya to Make Bid for Berlin World Championships Team at Hokkaido Marathon

http://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/080830/spg0808300501000-n1.htm

translated by Brett Larner

The elite field for Sunday's Hokkaido Marathon met the press at a conference held Aug. 29 at a Sapporo-area hotel. 2007 Tokyo Marathon victor Hitomi Niiya (20, Team Toyota Jidoshokki) stated that in her race she intends to make a strong bid for the 2009 Berlin World Championships women's marathon team. 2008 Biwako Mainichi Marathon 4th place finisher Yuzo Onishi (30, Team Nissin Shokuhin) and others appeared ready to face the challenge of tomorrow's competition.

Hot on the heels of the Beijing Olympics, the Hokkaido Marathon is the first race which Rikuren will give serious consideration when selecting the team for next year's world championships. With two days to go until her second marathon, the 20 year-old Niiya plans to make a deep impression. Overflowing with youthful energy, it is clear that Niiya is made of the right stuff. "I think the race will happen after 30 km,&quo…

Olympic Marathoners Ogata and Sato Speak at Chugoku Denryoku Headquarters

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/osaka/ser2/200808/30/ser2214571.html

translated by Brett Larner

Beijing Olympics men's marathon competitors Tsuyoshi Ogata (35) and Atsushi Sato (30), along with table tennis Olympian Haruna Fukuoka (24), appeared at the Hiroshima headquarters of their team sponsor, Chugoku Denryoku on Aug. 29 for their official post-Olympics press conference.

Asked to give one reason why they were so utterly defeated in the men's marathon, which was run at an unthinkably fast pace for a summer race, the two runners said they were simply afraid to run so fast right from the start. The race's leaders went through the first 5 km split in under 15 minutes. Ogata offered his view, saying, "I shouldn't have been so suprised and cautious when they went so fast at the beginning. I'll remember this and will be up there in the future." Sato likewise discussed the implications for his future, saying, "Next time I want to run a completely reckless speed m…

Reiko Tosa Announces Intent to Retire

http://www.jiji.com/jc/c?g=spo_30&k=2008082901128
http://mainichi.jp/enta/sports/general/track/news/20080830spn00m050007000c.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

At a press conference at her alma mater Matsuyama University, Beijing Olympics women's marathon competitor Reiko Tosa (32, Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo), who dropped out of the Olympic marathon at 25 km with a severe injury to her right foot, announced her intention to retire, saying, "I haven't talked to my company about it yet, but I want to put an end to the marathon. I thought this before the Olympics and haven't changed my mind since then. I'm going to retire."

Tosa's DNF in the Beijing Olympics women's marathon was the first in her career. Immediately afterwards she said nothing about the potential for her retirement. At the time of her return to Japan on Aug. 19, Tosa described her condition as, "I'm able to walk, but it'll be a month and a half before I can run. Mayb…

Toyota Kyushu Accepts Wanjiru's Resignation

http://mainichi.jp/enta/sports/general/track/news/20080828ddn035050042000c.html

translated by Brett Larner

Fukuoka-based Toyota Jidosha Kyushu has formally accepted the resignation from its professional running team of Beijing Olympics men's marathon gold medalist Samuel Wanjiru of Kenya. Head coach Koichi Morishita spoke to Wanjiru by telephone to confirm the gold medalist's intention to leave the company and accepted his decision on behalf of Toyota Jidosha Kyushu. His official resignation date is still to be determined.

On July 27 Toyota Jidosha Kyushu received a letter from a Tokyo law office stating Wanjiru's plan to quit, but the company would not formally accept the letter until it had the opportunity to confirm the news with Wanjiru himself. In the future Wanjiru plans to be active from home bases in Japan, Kenya and Europe.

Hokkaido Marathon - Preview

by Brett Larner

The 22nd running of the Hokkaido Marathon takes place on Aug. 31 in Sapporo, Hokkaido. Historically a hot race, this year's event comes just a week after the Beijing Olympics and features a relatively limited field.

In the men's race, last year's champion Julius Gitahi of Team Nissin Shokuhin will return to defend his title. Gitahi, a track Olympian for his native Kenya, won last year's race in his marathon debut, running 2:17:26 in conditions of extreme heat and humidity. He went on to run 2:08:57 and take 3rd in the 2008 Tokyo Marathon. Gitahi's biggest challenger will be his Nissin teammate Yuzo Onishi, who set a personal best of 2:08:54 at the 2008 Biwako Mainichi Marathon. With the nearly identical times run by both athletes this year, the potential is there for a major duel between the two teammates.

Other contenders in the field include 2005 Brecia Marathon winner Richard Maiyo (Kenya), 2006 Warsaw Marathon winner Vitaliy Shafar (Ukraine), and d…

Japanese Training Brings Success to Wanjiru, Zhou and Zhu

The fact that Beijing Olympics men's marathon winner Samuel Wanjiru and previous Kenyan marathon medalists Erick Wainaina and Douglas Wakiihuri all trained under Japanese coaches has gotten a fair amount of press recently. Less well-known is the fact that Chinese runners Chunxiu Zhou, who won the bronze medal in the women's marathon in Beijing and the silver medal at last year's Osaka World Championships marathon, and Xiaolin Zhu, who was 4th in both the Beijing Olympics and Osaka World Championships marathons, are also trained by a Japanese coach, Shinya Takeuchi. I posted an interesting profile of Takeuchi on Aug. 14 and in light of the attention being paid to Wanjiru's Japanese development I thought it worthwhile to bring it back up. Click here to read Takeuchi's profile, including some discussion of Zhou and Zhu's training.

Wanjiru Cancels Osaka Press Conference

http://www.47news.jp/CN/200808/CN2008082601000244.html

translated by Brett Larner

Kenyan Samuel Wanjiru, whose scintillating performance in the Beijing Olympics men's marathon earned him the gold medal, left Beijing on Aug. 26, returning to Kenya on board the Kenyan national team's chartered plane. Having earned Kenya's first-ever Olympic gold medal in the marathon, Wanjiru returned to Kenya to attend a celebration in his honor at the home of the Kenyan president. Wanjiru attended high school and ran professionally in Japan and had planned a victory press conference in Osaka for Aug. 26, but the press conference was cancelled in light of the president's invitation.

And more on the celebrations for Wanjiru in Kenya:
http://www.eastandard.net/InsidePage.php?id=1143993483&cid=39&j=&m=&d=

Satoshi Osaki Apologizes for Olympic Marathon DNS

http://beijing2008.nikkansports.com/athletics/p-sp-tp0-20080826-401299.html

translated by Brett Larner

Satoshi Osaki (32, Team NTT Nishi Nihon), who withdrew from the Beijing Olympics men's marathon, arrived at Kansai International Airport on Aug. 25 after returning to Japan from Beijing. Osaki withdrew from the marathon on Aug. 23 due to pain in his left hip joint. Breaking his silence for the first time since pulling out, Osaki apologized, saying, "I'm very, very sorry that I didn't take a chance by starting the race." Osaki watched the Olympic marathon on television in his room in Beijing. Asked whether he'll try again four years from now, Osaki responded, "I can't think about that yet, but that kind of feeling is probably there deep down somewhere. I don't want things to end this way."

A 'Good Enough' Mentality Can Never Win

originally published in Nikkei Newspaper, 8/25/08

by Takeyuki Nakayama

translated by Mika Tokairin and Brett Larner

Most of the runners who competed in the Olympic marathon prepared for a slow summer race, but Wanjiru and the other leaders turned it into a high-speed winter-style marathon. Wanjiru's early 5 km splits were 14:52, then 14:34. The next 5 km the split lengthened to 15:11, but after that the pace increased again to 14:33. His strategy was simply to push the pace as much as possible to drop his rivals. The two Japanese runners in the field couldn't respond to this race approach at all. While watching I predicted that the pace would slow to the 16 minute range for 5k, but Wanjiru actually kept his fast 15 minute splits until the end, illustrating that to today's top runners it doesn't matter whether it is winter or summer, they are willing to go fast in any race.

Japanese runners nowadays never run this kind of race. They are always preoccupied with worries about…

Wanjiru's Resignation From Toyota Kyushu Still Unsettled As He Looks to the Future

originally published in the Nikkei Newspaper, 8/25/08

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Beijing Olympics men's marathon winner Samuel Wanjiru confirmed after Sunday's race that he had sent a letter of resignation to Team Toyota Kyushu. He intends to remain based in Japan but wishes to follow his own path. "From now on I want to focus on the marathon by myself. I don't want to spend my time running ekidens," said Wanjiru.

Toyota Kyushu received Wanjiru's letter of resignation in late June after he had returned to Kenya for his Olympic preparations. Toyota Kyushu representatives commented, "We don't think he has moved to another company, but since this happend shortly before the Olympics we didn't want to disturb Wanjiru and haven't made any attempt to contact him. When he comes back to Japan we expect to settle the matter." Wanjiru plans to travel to Kenya after leaving Beijing, then will return to Japan in early September.

Asked to comme…

Japan's Olympic Marathon Results Raise Questions About Rikuren's Crisis Manangement Ability

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20080823-00000173-jij-spo

translated by Brett Larner

An injury is an accident and therefore something unavoidable. This is the viewpoint of Rikuren, the governing body of Japanese track and field. Everyone understands that Olympic marathon representatives need to push their bodies to the limit and drag themselves through incredible extremes of distance to be Olympic material, but at the same time it must be called abnormal when first women's marathoner Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex) and then men's marathoner Satoshi Osaki (Team NTT Nishi Nihon) pull out of the Olympic marathon at the last moment.

These withdrawals and other problems illustrate the lack of crisis management ability in the current Japanese system. Rikuren did not get control of Noguchi's situation before her injury became a serious fact. Both the men's and women's team alternates were omitted from the final Olympic team roster, meaning that neither was elligible to fill t…

Ogata Misses Top 8 Prize Position

originally published in the Nikkei Newspaper, 8/25/08

translated by Brett Larner

"Somebody ran 2:06 here, so the heat was irrelevant." So said Tsuyoshi Ogata after his 13th place finish in the Beijing Olympics men's marathon. With the temperature 24 degrees at the start, the lead pack went out with the kind of speed rarely seen in a summer marathon. "I thought it was too fast and hesitated a bit, and then I couldn't pick up enough positions from where I was back in the pack." At 10 km he was already 1 minute behind the leaders. After this point the sunshine became stronger and stronger. "I thought the lead pack would break up and that people would start to come back," Ogata went on. His expectation failed to come to pass, as the top runners continued on at a high pace.

At 25 km, defending gold medalist Stefano Baldini of Italy came up on Ogata from behind. The two runners worked together to pick off stragglers and advance through the field, bu…

Sato Has 'Humiliating' Last-Place Finish in Olympic Marathon

originally published in the Nikkei Newspaper, 8/25/08

translated by Brett Larner

Nearly 35 minutes after winner Samuel Wanjiru crossed the finish line, Atsushi Sato shuffled in at jogging speed. At age 30, this was his first Olympics. He was the 76th and final runner to finish the Olympic marathon. "It's humiliating, but that's the reality. I have to admit that 76th place means that's my level right now before I can start again."

Unable to get himself into suitable condition, Sato came to the Olympic main event in low spirits. Cutting back on practice due to fatigue and discouragement, Sato cancelled a planned high-altitude training camp in St. Moritz, Switzerland in July. Even heading into August, Sato said of his training, "While doing speedwork I just couldn't move my body."

After 25 kilometers, with the sunlight burning stronger and stronger, Sato's 5 km splits were way over 20 minutes. He could have pulled out at any time, but, "The whole …

Japanese University Runners Dominate New Caledonia Half Marathon

by Brett Larner

University student runners from Japan dominated the half marathon division of the 26th New Caledonia International Marathon on Aug. 24. Gakuinshuin University ace Yuki Kawauchi won the men's race in 1:07:15, with Jobu University's Yasuo Ishida taking 2nd in 1:07:47. In the women's race, Yuko Mizuguchi of Mie University ran 1:16:27 for the win. Chuo University's Ami Nishio was 2nd in 1:17:54.

Team JAL Ground Service's Junichi Akagi won the full marathon competition in a time of 2:31:12.

(c) 2008 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Near-Perfect Symmetry: Japan's Marathon Men Follow the Women's 'Lead'

by Brett Larner

Following the disastrous performance of the Japanese team in the Aug. 17 Beijing Olympics women's marathon, in which defending gold medalist Mizuki Noguchi withdrew from the race with a last-minute injury, alternate Tomo Morimoto had not been entered on the final official team roster, team member Reiko Tosa had training problems and failed to finish the race, and remaining runner Yurika Nakamura finished a disappointing 13th place, the men's team experienced an uncannily parallel serious of upsets in the Aug. 24 Olympic men's marathon.

The bad news began in mid-June when doubts surfaced about team ace Atsushi Sato's fitness following a dismal performance at the Sapporo International Half Marathon and the cancellation of a planned training camp in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Sato relocated to Hokkaido and promptly disappeared from the media until just before the Olympic marathon. At the official press conference he was understated and dark, exuding a lack of …

'Overcoming Tumultuous Year, Wanjiru Takes First Kenyan Olympic Marathon Victory'

http://www.iaaf.org/OLY08/news/kind=103/newsid=47356.html

The announcers on the Japanese television coverage of the Beijing Olympics men's marathon, including marathon legends Hiromi Taniguchi and Takeshi Soh, and later news coverage stressed that Wanjiru has trained in Japan since his mid-teens but did not mention that after returning to Kenya for training earlier this summer he sent lawyers to notify Team Toyota Kyushu that he would not be returning.

Wanjiru gave an interview in Japanese after his Olympic win, thanking the Japanese public for its support. Wanjiru's medal was the first-ever marathon gold by a Kenyan man. Both of Kenya's previous Olympic medalists in the men's marathon, Erick Wainaina (bronze, Atlanta, 1996; silver, Sydney, 2000) and Douglas Wakiihuri (silver, Seoul, 1988) also lived and trained in Japan before winning their medals.

Satoshi Osaki Out of Olympic Marathon With Hip Injury (updated)

http://www.chugoku-np.co.jp/NewsPack/CN2008082301000765_Sports.html
http://www.daily.co.jp/general/2008/08/23/0001366258.shtml
NHK News broadcast, 8:55 p.m., 8/23/08

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The JOC announced on the evening of Aug. 23 that Beijing Olympics men's marathon team member Satoshi Osaki, 32, of Team NTT Nishi Nihon, has suffered an injury to his left hip and has withdrawn from the Aug. 24 competition. Osaki began to experience discomfort in his left hip during his final training session on Aug. 20, the day before he travelled to Beijing. The pain became progressively worse, and while jogging on Aug. 22 it developed to the point at which he could no longer run. Osaki made the decision to withdraw early in the day on Aug. 23.

In the women's marathon, defending gold medalist Mizuki Noguchi of Team Sysmex withdrew from the race shortly beforehand leaving only two team members to compete. Osaki's withdrawal leaves the men in the same position, with only Tsuyos…

Japan's Marathon Men Arrive in Beijing to Face the World

http://www.47news.jp/CN/200808/CN2008082201000744.html
http://www2.asahi.com/olympic2008/news/TKY200808210258.html
http://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/080821/spg0808211244007-n2.htm
http://www.47news.jp/CN/200808/CN2008081901000508.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Japan's three entrants in the Aug. 24 Beijing Olympics men's marathon, Atsushi Sato and Tsuyoshi Ogata of Team Chugoku Denryoku and Satoshi Osaki of Team NTT Nishi Nihon, arrived in Beijing on Aug. 21 after leaving from Osaka's Kansai International Airport. The next day, the team appeared at an official press conference in Beijing. Ogata, the 5th place finisher at last year's Osaka World Track and Field Championships marathon, confidently assured reporters, "I've done what I needed to do and I can't wait to run."

Sato, who holds the fastest qualifying time of the three athletes after running 2:07:13 at last December's Fukuoka International Marathon, was more subdued, saying, "I…

Japanese Olympic Track Results - Aug. 22

by Brett Larner

Men's 4 x 400 m Relay - Heats
After Japan's ace runner Yuzo Kanemaru pulled out of the men's 4 x 400 m heats just 30 minutes before the race, veteran 400 m hurdler Dai Tamesue was brought in as a replacement to the mostly young, inexperienced team. Mitsuhiro Abiko handed off to Tamesue in last place, and Tamesue was unable to make up any ground on the rest of the field. Yoshihiro Horigome almost caught 7th place, but it was up to anchor Kenji Narisako, also a hurdler, to move Japan into its final position of 6th, catching Greece and the Dominican Republic in the home stretch. Japan finished in a season best 3:04.18 but failed to advance to the final.

Men's 4 x 100 m Relay - Final
Japan's team of Naoki Tsukahara, Shingo Suetsugu, Shinji Takahira and Nobuharu Asahara ran a season best 38.15 to finish 3rd, winning Japan's first-ever men's medal in an Olympic track race and the country's first Olympic track medal in 80 years. Click here for a mo…

Japan Scores First Track Medal in 80 Years With Men's 4 x 100 Bronze (updated)

by Brett Larner

After finishing 4th in the 2004 Athens Olympics and 5th at the 2007 Osaka World Track and Field Championships, the Japanese men's 4 x 100 m relay team scored Japan's first Olympic medal in a track event since the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics, running a season best 38.15 to take bronze behind gold medalist Jamaica's world record 37.10 and silver medalist Trinidad and Tobago's 38.06.

Of the four members of the team, only first-leg runner Naoki Tsukahara, the 2008 100 m national champion, had run well in individual competition in Beijing, making the semi-final of the men's 100 m. Tsukahara was again solid, delivering a strong start against Jamaica's Nesta Carta. A flawless handoff to 200 m national record holder and three-time Olympian Shingo Suetsugu on the second leg maintained Japan's position. Suetsugu performed another impeccable handoff to 2008 200 m national champion Shinji Takahira; while inevitably losing ground to Jamaica's Usain Bolt Ta…

Japanese Olympic Track Results - Aug. 21

by Brett Larner

Men's 4 x 100 m Relay - Heats
Japan's 4 x 100 m relay team of Naoki Tsukahara, Shingo Suetsugu, Shinji Takahira and Nobuhara Asahara survived a wild heat which saw four of the eight competing teams drop the baton to finish 2nd in a season-best 38.52. This was the third-fastest time among the teams which made the final, giving Japan a legitimate chance for its first track and field medal of the Beijing Olympics.

The same Japanese team set the Asian record of 38.03 in finishing 5th at last summer's World Track and Field Championships in Osaka. Of the teams which beat Japan at the World Championships, only Jamaica finished ahead of Japan in the Olympic heats, winning its heat in 38.31, with the teams from the U.K. and U.S.A. eliminated after dropping their batons. Japan finished well ahead of the Brazilian team which had placed 4th at the World Championships. Trinidad and Tobago, which did not make the World Championships final, won the heat against Japan in the …

Japanese Olympic Track Results - Aug. 20

by Brett Larner

Men's 5000 m - Heats
National record holder and three-time national champion Takayuki Matsumiya and national university record holder Kensuke Matsumiya ran in the heats of the men's 5000 m after having competed in Sunday's 10000 m final. Neither athlete advanced to the final.

Matsumiya, seemingly in poor shape in the 10000 m, appeared in better form today, running comfortably within the pack through 3000 m, when he was spiked in his left leg by Sultan Khamis Zaman of Qatar. Shortly afterwards, without warning, as Matsumiya made a move on the outside to head toward the front of the pack his left shoe came off. He continued running but soon began to slip away from the pack, his face showing the pain he felt as blisters began to develop on his exposed foot. Matsumiya finished second to last in 14:20.24, both legs splattered with blood.

He immediately went to retrieve his lost shoe, putting it back on before heading for a post-race interview. The national record ho…

Reiko Tosa Returns to Japan With Serious Injury Following Beijing Olympic Marathon

published 8/19/08 in the Nikkei Newspaper, and
http://beijing.yahoo.co.jp/news/detail/20080819-00000127-mai-spo
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20080819-00000244-jij-spo
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/olympic/2008/news/track/marathon/news/20080818-OYT1T00009.htm
http://www.47news.jp/CN/200808/CN2008081901000618.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Beijing Olympics women's marathon competitor Reiko Tosa, 32, who dropped out of the Olympic marathon without warning, returned to Japan on Aug. 19, arriving at Narita International Airport at 7:30 p.m. Tosa favored her injured right foot and her posture suggested she was in a great deal of pain, but she drew consolation from the encouragement and support given by her fellow travellers.

In response to questions from reporters Tosa commented, "My right foot became swollen during the race, and it's still painful to walk. I think it's going to take a while to get better. The pain is pretty much constant, so I don't know if it…

Japanese Olympic Track Results - Aug. 19

by Brett Larner

Women`s 5000 m - Heats
2008 National Champion Yuriko Kobayashi narrowly missed out on qualifying for the women's 5000 m finals, finishing 7th in the slower first heat in 15:15.87. As the fastest of the finishers outside the six guaranteed to advance Kobayashi had the best chance of advancing on time to the final, but it was not to be. In the second heat the top six finishers were all more than ten seconds faster than first heat winner Tirunesh Dibaba's time of 15:09.89. All three women who advanced on time came from the second heat; the slowest of these, China's Fei Xue, ran 15:13:25 to eliminate Kobayashi from contention.

Japanese national record holder in the 5000 m Kayoko Fukushi was 10th in the second heat, running 15:20.46 and likewise failing to make the cut for the final. The Japanese team member with the fastest time this season, Yukiko Akaba, continued to show the surprisingly poor form she demonstrated in the women's 10000 m, finishing 12th in th…

Japanese Olympic Track Results - Aug. 18

by Brett Larner

Men's 400 m - Heats
2008 National Champion Yuzo Kanemaru was eliminated from the 400 m after finishing last in the 4th heat with a 46.39.

Men's 200 m - Heats / Quarter-Final
2008 National Champion Shinji Takahira advanced to the 200 m quarter-finals on time after running a season-best 20.58 to finish 4th in the second heat. National record holder Shingo Suetsugu ran 20.93 for 6th place in the seventh heat, failing to advance. Takahira was consistent in the quarter-final, running 20.63 for 7th in the second heat, but could not advance to the semi-finals.

Men's 110 m Hurdles - Heats
2008 National Champion Masato Naito ran 13.96 in the 4th heat of the 110 m hurdles, finishing last and not advancing to the quarter-finals.

(c) 2008 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Nakamura and Tosa's Supporters Gathered Across Japan to Watch Women's Marathon

http://mainichi.jp/area/ehime/news/20080818ddlk38050331000c.html
http://mainichi.jp/area/okayama/news/20080818ddlk33050341000c.html
http://www.sponichi.co.jp/osaka/soci/200808/18/soci214186.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

500 students gathered at Beijing Olympics women's marathon competitor Yurika Nakamura's former high school, Nishinomiya H.S. in Hyogo Prefecture, to watch the broadcast of the women's marathon on Aug. 17 and cheer her on. Almost all members of the school's track and field team had gone to Beijing to cheer Nakamura on live, but there was no shortage of supporters from the rest of the student body. The climax came when Nakamura passed world record holder Paula Radcliffe shortly before finishing 13th. The scene brought on cheers such as, "Yurika is so cool!" and "Unbelievable!" Yusuke Nakai, 23, who belonged to Nishinomiya High's track and field team at the same time as Nakamura, said, "She's going to become st…

Japanese Olympic Track Results - Aug. 17

by Brett Larner

Men's 10000 m
Waseda University senior Kensuke Takezawa was a surprise start in the men's 10000 m after being out of competition from January to June with severe injuries and scratching in the Japanese National Track and Field Championships 10000 m in June. Takezawa, who set a PB of 27:45.59 at last year's Cardinal Invitational, was clearly still far off his peak form, never making any attempt to go with competitors of comparable ability but running steadily and finishing 28th in 28:23.28, a creditable 28.5 seconds faster than his time from last summer's Osaka World Track and Field Championships when he was in excellent condition. Takezawa afterwards described the Olympic race as "a learning experience."

5000 m national record and 30 km world record holder Takayuki Matsumiya had a dismal run. Despite having coming close to the national record in this year's Cardinal Invitational, where he ran 27:41.75, winning the National Championships 10000…

Worst-Case Scenario Comes True: Beijing Olympics Women's Marathon

by Brett Larner

With the last-minute departure of defending gold medalist Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex) from the Japanese women's marathon team due to an injury and the absence of alternate Tomo Morimoto (Team Tenmaya), also due to injury, the pressure on remaining competitors Reiko Tosa (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) and Yurika Nakamura (Team Tenmaya) in today's Beijing Olympics Women's Marathon was intense. Unfortunately the race conformed to a worst-case predication of how it would unfold.

Tosa has been in poor shape since winning the bronze medal in last summer's World Championships marathon. The latest in a long line of injuries, illnesses and training setbacks was a bunion on her right foot which developed during the last week of July. Tosa claimed that she had recovered sufficiently to race, but just 15 km into the Olympic marathon she drifted back from the lead pack despite its relatively slow pace. Within a short time she had slowed to a near walk and was clear…

Japanese Olympic Track Results - Aug. 16

by Brett Larner

Men's 3000 m SC Heats
National record holder Yoshitaka Iwamizu ran 8:29.80 in the first heat, just 0.05 seconds off his winning time from June's National Track and Field Championships but far from his national record of 8:18.93. Iwamizu finished 9th in his heat and did not advance to the final.

Women's 400 m
Asami Tanno was Japan's first woman in an Olympic 400 m in 44 years. She ran 52.60 in the fifth heat, finishing 4th but failing to advance to the next round.

Men's 100 m
2008 National Champion Naoki Tsukahara ran against big names Asafa Powell of Jamaica and Tyson Gay of the U.S.A. in the second heat of the men's 100 m semifinal. Tsukahara ran a season best 10.16, just 0.01 off his personal best, but finished 7th and did not advance to the final.

Women's 100 m
In Beijing Japan fielded its first woman in an Olympic 100 m in 56 years. Chisato Fukushima ran 11.74 in the 5th heat, a time she called, "no good at all" in a post-race inte…

Japanese Olympic Track Results - Aug. 15

by Brett Larner

Women's 10000 m
Yukiko Akaba went out according to expectation despite having come down with a fever, running in the top four until this historic race's fast pace swallowed her whole. She soon fell back and ran most of the race together with national record holder Yoko Shibui, who was surprisingly passive and never made a move to stay with the lead pack. Japan's third woman, 3000 m, 5000 m and half marathon national record holder Kayoko Fukushi, ran at the back of the lead pack, passing 5000 m in approximately 15:09, far faster than her 3rd place finish time in the 5000 m at June's National Track and Field Championships. She began to struggle between 5000 and 6000 m, but until 9000 m it looked likely that Shibui's national record of 30:48.89 would be in danger. Fukushi was in the end unable to hang on, jogging the home stretch and finishing 11th in a disappointing 31:01.14. Shibui was 17th in 31:31.13, while Akaba finished 20th in 32:00.37.

Women's…

Yutaka Taketomi, Olympian Maker

http://business.nikkeibp.co.jp/article/topics/20080804/167170/

translated by Mika Tokairin and Brett Larner

Tenmaya is a department store chain based in Okayama and Hiroshima Prefectures. Entering through the front door of the Okayama main store, one is greeted by a gleaming, fashionable boutique full of Chanel and Tiffany. Wandering through the displays, there is little to indicate that one of the shrewdest, most talented leaders of the Japanese marathon world is based here in simple quarters.

This is Tenmaya Women's Track and Field Team head coach Yutaka Taketomi. A small man, he looks like some sort of artisan with short, sporty hair and brown skin caused by long hours in the sun. Tenmaya team member Yurika Nakamura won her first marathon, the Nagoya International Women's Marathon, in March to qualify for the Beijing Olympic marathon team. The Olympic marathon team alternate, Tomo Morimoto, also belongs to Team Tenmaya.

With Nakamura's selection to the Beijing team, Taketom…

Chunxiu Zhou's Japanese Coach Shinya Takeuchi Seeks to Make Personal Compensation to China for WWII

originally published in the Nikkei Newspaper
http://www2.asahi.com/olympic2008/column/TKY200711260074.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

When Shinya Takeuchi began to coach runners in the Chinese prefecture of Jiangsu 20 years ago, the shoes they wore were made from cheap rubber, just like those worn in Japan right after World War II. "They run marathons in these?" he thought in disbelief. When his runners had good results in international races, people involved in the Chinese running industry asked him almost every day, "What kind of drugs are you using?" He was bewildered by the difference from the Japanese running environment. Now he feels the possibilities present in Chinese runners' power.

Takeuchi, 76, former head coach of the now-defunct UFJ Bank Track and Field Team, became an advisor for the Chinese national marathon team last autumn. He has been helping Chinese runners for a long time but only recently has received an official position from the Ch…

The One and Only Yoko Shibui

http://www.business-i.jp/news/sou-page/news/200808020012a.nwc

translated by Brett Larner and Mika Tokairin

Beijing Olympics Women's 10000 m Team Member Yoko Shibui

"I Genuinely Want to Win"

She's had many great records and many failures, but it's all in the past for Yoko Shibui. It's not that she won a spot on the Beijing Olympics women's 10000 m team but rather that she finally found the true athlete's state of mind. "I am hungry to win these days. This year especially I've found myself always thinking, 'I want to win, I want to win, I want to win!' People probably think I've always been a passionate person, but it's not true. I think that I probably didn't use to really have the drive to win, but now I do. This means that in Beijing I will be shooting to take down some big names."

Here in front of me is the newborn Shibui. What gets her going is not the existence of rivals or the reputations of others. It's beating h…

'Injury Forces Noguchi Out of Olympic Marathon'

http://www.thefinalsprint.com/2008/08/injury-forces-noguchi-out-of-olympic-marathon/

As with the Times Online's Rick Broadbent a few days ago and Reuters before that, New York City Marathon Elite Athlete Coordinator and Race Results Weekly editor David Monti made uncredited use of my translation work in the above article published on The Final Sprint website, in this case the entire quotation of Mizuki Noguchi's withdrawal statement. As I said in response to Mr. Broadbent's utilization of my work, I provide professional-quality translations free of charge on this blog and am happy to have them distributed elsewhere. I ask only to receive due credit as the translator out of respect for the significant portion of my time I put into making this information available outside Japan.

Noguchi's Withdrawal Puts Major Pressure on Tosa and Nakamura

http://beijing.yahoo.co.jp/news/detail/20080812-00000264-jij-spo#0

translated by Brett Larner

A major shock hit the Japanese running world on Aug. 12 when Beijing Olympics women`s marathon gold medal favorite Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex) unexpectedly withdrew from the competition after suffering an injury to her left thigh, ending the Athens Olympics gold medalist's quest to become the first woman to defend her title in the marathon.

Today, the JOC received Noguchi's official withdrawal from Rikuren official Tadasu Kono. JOC athlete director Tomiaki Fukuda commented, "She was expected to win the gold medal, so it is very disappointing." It is now up to the remaining two athletes to extend Japan's run of women's marathon gold medals to three.

The other two Japanese runners on the women's marathon team are Reiko Tosa (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) who is appearing in her second straight Olympics, and first-time Olympian Yurika Nakamura (Team Tenmaya). Marathoning…

Noguchi Officially Withdraws From Beijing Olympics

http://sports.nikkei.co.jp/index.aspx?n=AS1H1205J%2012082008
http://www.iza.ne.jp/news/newsarticle/sports/other/169194/
http://www.iza.ne.jp/news/newsarticle/sports/other/169193/
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20080812-00000076-mai-spo

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On the evening of Aug. 12, the JOC announced that Athens Olympics women`s marathon gold medalist Mizuki Noguchi (30, Team Sysmex), who at this Sunday's Beijing Olympic marathon planned to attempt to become the first woman to defend an Olympic marathon title, has officially withdrawn from the race due to an injury to her left thigh. Representatives of Noguchi's team informed Rikuren of their decision earlier in the day on the 12th.

Noguchi issued the following statement: "I've tried everything I can to recover, but when I run I'm still in a lot of pain and I can't take my training to the next level. Everything I've done in the last four years has been for Beijing so my desire to run has neve…

Noguchi's Decision to be Announced on Aug. 13

http://beijing.yahoo.co.jp/news/detail/20080812-00000021-sanspo-spo

translated by Brett Larner

Nobuyuki Fujita, 67, head coach of defending Olympic women's marathon gold medalist Mizuki Noguchi, 30, has updated the media on his injured runner's condition, saying that on Aug. 11 she was able to complete her longest training session since sustaining an injury to her left thigh. "At 5:30 a.m. she jogged for an hour. In the afternoon she had massage and other care," said Fujita. Noguchi has not been seen publicly in Kyoto, but Fujita said she is doing the minimum training necessary to make an Olympic run feasible.

Fujita added that if Noguchi decides to run in Beijing she will head to China on Aug. 14 rather than on Aug. 13 as originally planned, saying it would be best for Noguchi to wait until the last minute possible to travel. He said that Noguchi's team will announce her final decision on Aug. 13.

Morimoto Will Not Replace Noguchi in Women's Marathon

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/olympic/2008/news/track/marathon/news/20080811-OYT1T00548.htm

translated by Brett Larner

Japanese Olympic women's marathon team alternate Tomo Morimoto (Team Tenmaya) will not be available to replace injured team member Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex) should Noguchi be unable to compete in Beijing, Morimoto's coach Yutaka Taketomi told the Yomiuri Newspaper on Aug. 11. "There isn't enough time left for Morimoto to get ready and we wouldn't want to raise unrealistic expectations, so I won't be sending her," Taketomi said. He went on to explain that Morimoto has an injury to her right leg and thus has been taking a break from hard training recently. Morimoto was dropped from the Japanese Olympic team roster on July 30, but on Aug. 10 Rikuren officials contacted Team Tenmaya to enquire about her availability.

Should Noguchi withdraw from the Olympic marathon, Japan will field only two runners, Reiko Tosa (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) and Yu…

No Decision for Noguchi Until Tuesday or Wednesday (updated)

http://beijing.yahoo.co.jp/news/detail/20080810-00000057-jij-spo#0
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20080810-00000928-san-spo
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20080810-00000936-san-spo

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Translator`s note: The section of quotes from the Aug. 10 press conference following the main article below has been updated and contains a fair amount of additional information.

Speaking at a press conference in Kyoto on Aug. 10, Mizuki Noguchi`s head coach Nobuyuki Fujita and Rikuren official Keisuke Sawaki addressed the defending Olympic marathon champion's condition and the possibility that she may withdraw from the Aug. 17 Beijing Olympics marathon, saying, "No decision will be made for another two or three days."

The press conference included Fujita, Sawaki, Noguchi's trainer Hisakazu Hirose and Rikuren marathon director Tadasu Kono. The conference began with an overview of Noguchi's situation by Sawaki, while Fujita followed with a further e…

'Olympic Champion, Mizuki Noguchi, Rushed to Hospital'

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/olympics/article4497185.ece

The Times Online picked up on this story and author Rick Broadbent saw fit to directly quote my translation, for example the idiomatic closing quotation, "We are now trying very hard to get her together for the race." I'm happy to have the translation work I post for free on this blog distributed elsewhere, but I would appreciate, particularly from professionals, receiving appropriate mention as the translator.

Mizuki Noguchi Considering Dropping Out of Olympics After Hospitalization for Fatigue

http://www.asahi.com/sports/update/0809/TKY200808090164.html

translated by Brett Larner and Mika Tokairin

On Aug. 9 it was revealed that defending Olympic women`s marathon champion Mizuki Noguchi (30, Team Sysmex), who is attempting next week in Beijing to become the first woman to win two Olympic marathon gold medals, was hospitalized in Kyoto after secretly returning to Japan from her high-altitude training camp in St. Moritz, Switzerland on Aug. 4, three days earlier than planned. Noguchi is not injured but rather suffering from severe fatigue. Her management is cautiously considering whether or not she should run the Olympic marathon on Aug. 17.

Noguchi was hospitalized in Kyoto primarily for a health check, receiving a battery of MRI tests and examinations to determine how the accumulated fatigue she is experiencing is affecting her muscle condition. She has now been released and is being advised by a team of doctors. Officials stated, "We are now trying very hard to get her to…

Noguchi Back in Japan After Cutting Swiss Altitude Training Short

http://dailynews.yahoo.co.jp/fc/sports/noguchi_mizuki/?1218072699
http://www.jiji.com/jc/c?g=spo_30&k=2008080700420

translated and edited by Brett Larner

An unexpected change has struck the queen of the marathon. On Aug. 6 it was revealed that Athens Olympics women`s marathon gold medalist Mizuki Noguchi (30, Team Sysmex) cut her altitude training in St. Moritz, Switerland short, returning to Japan on Aug. 4 rather than Aug. 7 as originally planned. Noguchi was experiencing feelings of fatigue related to being at a high elevation and opted to relocate to a more moderate altitude. She will continue her training in Hokkaido until her departure for Beijing on Aug. 13. Noguchi is trying her hardest to become the first woman to defend an Olympic marathon gold medal, but with 10 days to go until the main event the slightest doubt has surfaced.

Sakamoto Headlines Hokkaido Marathon

http://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/080806/spg0808061815001-n1.htm

translated by Brett Larner

On Aug. 6 the organizing committee of the 2008 Hokkaido Marathon released the names of the elite athletes appearing at this year`s competition to be held Aug. 31 in Sapporo, Hokkaido. Headling the women`s field are Athens Olympics women`s marathon 7th place finisher Naoko Sakamoto (Team Tenmaya) and 2007 Tokyo Marathon winner Hitomi Niiya (Team Toyota Jidoshoki). The men`s field includes defending champion Julius Gitahi (Team Nissin Shokuhin) and 2008 Biwako Mainichi Marathon 4th place finisher Yuzo Onishi (Team Nissin Shokuhin).

Japanese Olympic Distance Running Preview

by Brett Larner

It is no secret that the marathon dominates the Japanese distance running world. The pressure on Japanese marathoners is intense, although its nature is different for women and men. Japanese women have won marathon medals in the last four Olympics, including the last two gold medals, and are expected to continue this legacy. The men, on the other hand, have not won a medal since Koichi Morishita’s silver in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and as a result are perceived to be inferior to the women. While this is statistically debatable, it cannot be argued that Japanese runners, male and female, have been less competitive at all distances shorter than the marathon.

This year may well be different as the country is sending possibly its best-ever Olympic distance running team, including the national record holders in both the men`s and women`s 3000m steeplechase and 5000m and in the women`s 10000m and marathon. Not only the female marathoners but also the male marathoners and wo…

Japanese Olympic Distance Running Preview - Women`s Marathon (updated)

by Brett Larner

Women`s Marathon

Defending Olympic marathon gold medalist Mizuki Noguchi withdrew from the Olympic marathon on Aug. 12 as a result of an injury she sustained in training on July 25. Alternate Tomo Morimoto, a teammate of Yurika Nakamura at Tenmaya, is also injured, meaning that Japan will field only two runners in the women`s marathon.

Yurika Nakamura
Born: Apr. 1, 1986, Hyogo Prefecture
Team Affiliation: Tenmaya
Olympic Event PB: 2:25:51, 3/9/08
Season Highlights:
-3rd place and PB, Hyogo Relay Carnival 10000m: 31:31.95, 4/27/08
-Winner, Nagoya Int’l Women`s Marathon: 2:25:51, 3/9/08
Career Highlights:
-Winner, Nagoya Int’l Women`s Marathon, 2008
-World Road Running Championships, 2006-2007
-World XC Championships, 2005
-Nat’l T&F Championships 5000m, 2006-2007
-Nat’l T&F Championships 10000m, 2006

Yurika Nakamura is the least experienced member of the Japanese distance running team, earning a slot on the Beijing Olympics team by winning her debut marathon, the 2008 Nagoya In…