Updated 10 October 2007
Chisato OSAKI, Japan (3,000m/5,000m/Half Marathon)
Born: 19 April 1987, Ibaraki Pref. (70km from Tokyo); 1.57m / 43kg
Lives and trains in Tokyo
Coach: Hideo Suzuki
Team: Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance
Chisato Osaki started running in 2000, when she entered Takaku junior high school in Ibaraki Prefecture. She ran mostly 1500m but her personal record at the distance was only 4:55. In her senior year in junior high school, Osaki advanced to the prefectural championships, but could go no further. So, at that stage, she was completely unknown at national level.
However, Osaki’s aggressive running style caught the eye of the Seitoku high school Physical Education teacher, Kenji Ogawa. Osaki entered Seitoku high school in the spring of 2003 as recommended by Ogawa, and by autumn she had started to show an aptitude for long distance. With training, her muscular power increased and Ogawa further points to Osaki’s superior cardio-respiratory function as a reason for her success. Ogawa routinely ask his athletes to check the resting pulse rate first thing in the morning. For Osaki it was under 40 beats a minute.
“First, I thought that Osaki miscounted,” Ogawa said. “After confirming that she was counting accurately, I worried about the possibility of abnormality in her heart. When abnormality was not found in the hospital, I recognised the superiority of her cardio-respiratory function."
In December, at the National high school ekiden championships, Osaki ran the first stage. A month later, in January 2004, she participated in Inter prefectural women's ekiden as a representative of Ibaraki Prefecture.
Osaki made rapid progress during the 2004 track season, winning the 3000m in the Ibaraki prefectural inter high school championships in May (9:26.33). She improved her personal best from 2003 by 40 seconds. Osaki then finished 9th at 3000m in the inter high school championships in August and 12th at 3000m in National athletic meet in October.
After improving her 5000m best to 15:58.83, Osaki was on a roll during the road race season. In the Ibaraki prefecture qualification race for the national high school ekiden championships, Osaki covered the 6Km first stage in 19:19. In December, on the 6Km first stage, where the last 3Km is steady uphill, she recorded 19:27. In January, 2005, on her 10Km debut, she clocked 33:40, and placed 8th in the Fukuoka international cross country (Jr.6?) in March.
For Osaki, the 2005 track season was sub-par due to injury and health problems but she recovered in time for the road season. She established a National high school record of 32:50 at 10km in January, 2006. She was 3rd in the Fukuoka international cross country (Junior) and 9th in the Chiba International cross country (Junior), and was thus selected for the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Fukuoka. There, in her first international championships, Osaki ran the junior 6? race and finished 17th (4th Japanese) in 20:33. The Japanese team won the junior women's bronze.
"She really loves to run,” Ogawa said. “She listens to her coach and trains hard. I think that her merit is her open mind along with superiority of her cardio respiratory function. She has aggressiveness to lead the race but is also gifted with tenacity. Osaki, when she is running, shows unyielding and competitive personality, but she is usually a calm, very gentle person." Such an image is similar to that of Reiko Tosa, who was 2nd in the marathon at the 2001 World Championships, in Edmonton, and 3rd in the 2007 World Championships, in Osaka.
After graduating from high school, Osaki joined Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance team in the spring of 2006. They are a top team for women's long distance in Japan and the head coach, Hideo Suzuki, guided Tosa and Yoko Shibui (National record in 10,000m and 2:19:41 marathon). Osaki had wished to run for this team since the second year of high school and now she is being coached by Suzuki along with Tosa and Shibui, whom she adores.
It was at the All Japan corporate teams ekiden championships in December 2006, that Osaki attracted great attention in Japan. Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance was aiming at 4th straight victory and it came down to a duel between Osaki and Harumi Hiroyama of Shiseido on the anchor leg. Hiroyama is a former Japanese record holder at 1500m/3000m/5000m and was 4th in the 1999 World Championships 10,000m. Osaki, 19, fought courageously with the 38-year-old in a race which was televised nationwide but the younger athlete had to settle for second best. Nevertheless, Osaki said: "That experience was very big confidence builder for me."
In Inter-Prefectural Ekiden Championships in January this year, Osaki ran the 10Km ninth stage, passing ten runners on her way to record 31:49. In March, she made her half marathon debut in Matsue ladies half marathon and won in 1:09:25, breaking Shibui’s course record by six seconds.
In July, Osaki run the Sapporo International Half Marathon. In the race won by Mizuki Noguchi, the Olympic marathon champion, in 1:08:22, Osaki was 5th (2nd Japanese) with 1:10:34.
From the spring to summer of 2007, Osaki served as a training partner for Tosa. Of the training camp in Kunming, China, Suzuki said: "In the training run up to 30?, Osaki often ran in front of Tosa." He says that Osaki is steadily gaining strength. Her arm motion has improved, and her running from had stabilised. "Some day I want to challenge the marathon with Tosa and Shibui," Osaki said.
2003 - 17:09.33; 2004 - 9:23.09, 15:58.83; 2005 - 9:23.85, 16:06.43, 33:40.; 2006 - 9:25.10, 15:57.67, 32:50.; 2007 - 15:57.88, 32:39., 1:09:25
3000m: 9:23.09 (2004)
5000m: 15:57.67 (2006)
10km: 32:39.(2007) *
Half marathon: 1:09:25(2007)
* En route during the half marathon
2006 - 17th, World Cross Country Championships (Junior 6km) and Team bronze
2007 - 1st, Matsue Ladies Half Marathon
2007 - 5th, Sapporo International Half Marathon
Prepared by Ikumi Kodama for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. © IAAF 2007.