The 2013-2016 IAAF Strategic Plan has six Core Values: universality, leadership, unity, excellence, integrity and solidarity, and a Vision Statement: “To lead, govern and develop the sport of athletics in all its forms worldwide, uniting the Athletics Family in a spirit of excellence, integrity and solidarity.”
The 96th Japanese national championships were held from June 8 to 10th at Nagai Stadium the venue of the 2007 World Championships in Osaka.
The championships doubled as the Olympic trials and the JAAF has announced that any athletes with the Olympic "A" standard will be automatically selected for the Olympic team if he/she wins the national championships. Ten athletes made the team satisfying the above criterion: Masashi Eriguchi in men’s 100m, Kei Takase men’s 200m, Yuzo Kanemaru men’s 400m, Takayuki Kishimoto men’s 400mH, Genki Dean men’s JT, Chisato Fukushima women’s 100m, Satomi Kubokura women’s 400mH, Hitomi Niiya women’s 5000m, Mika Yoshikawa women’s 10,000m and Yuki Ebihara women’s JT. All except for Kanemaru, Fukushima and Kubokura will be competing in their first Olympic Games.
18th straight title for Murofushi
Going into the National Championships, Koji Murofushi, who won the Hammer Throw in Daegu, was pre-selected for the team. He still competed in the national championships, returning from his training base in San Jose, California, and won for the 18th straight time starting in 1995. He could only throw 72.85m, however, because of driving rain during the first day of competition.
"There is a possibility of rain in London, so I think this could have been good preparation," Murofushi said. He will return to San Jose for his final preparation for London.
Dean wins thrilling javelin battle
The most exciting competition was in the Men’s Javelin throw where Genki Dean, the 2010 World Junior Silver medallist who recently recorded 84.28m, and Yukifumi Murakami, 2009 World Championships bronze medalist, were expected to compete for the supremacy. Everyone knew that Dean was in great shape, but Murakami’s form was in question, for he was injured earlier in the season.
But Murakami was back in shape. He threw 79.13m with his first throw, improving to 82.93m, a meet record, in the second round. In the third round Murakami threw a personal best of 83.95m. The competition, however, was not over yet. Dean who threw 81.62m in his second round improved to 84.03m in round four to take over the lead. Murakami failed to improve his best and thus his winning streak at the nationals came to an end at 12. "This (winning nationals) is not my final goal. The world number one is not out of my reach, so I would like to get there," said Dean, whose father is British.
Young sprinters on show
Chisato Fukushima, national record holder in the 100 and 200m, won both for the second consecutive year. She came from behind to catch and pass high school sensation Anna Doi at 90 metres to win the 100m for the third consecutive year. The 16-year-old Doi set a national junior as well as national high school record (11.50) this year. In the last two years, Doi set national youth as well as national junior high school record, all at 100m. A day later, Fukushima run away from the field to win the 200m from 21-year-old Kana Ichikawa. "I have much higher goal. I know I can do better. As you all know I need to improve my start," she said.
Yuki Ebihara broke her national record for women’s Javelin throw with 62.36m, and thus made the Olympic team. Her previous national record, 61.56m, was recorded in 2010 Asian Games. Ebihara, fifth at the 2004 World Juniors, was ninth in the 2011 World Championships. "I am aiming higher at the Olympics. I am looking to throw similar distance in the Games," said Ebihara.
As on the women’s side, young sprinters have dominated the men’s sprints. At 100m, 23-year-old Masashi Eriguchi, thrice defending national champion, won from 20-year-old Takumi Kuki and 19-year-old Ryota Yamagata. Yamagata, fourth at the 2009 World Youths and the national junior record holder, recorded 10.08 in April. In the 200m, 23-year-old Kei Takase won from 20-year-old Shota Iizuka, 2010 World Junior Champion.
Five-time national 1500m champion Mika Yoshikawa won the 10,000m with a huge personal best of 31:28.71. She followed the pace set by seven-time national champion Kayoko Fukushi and then broke away from Fukushi at 9000 metres. Yoshikawa covered the final 1000 metres in 2:57 and won by nearly 15 seconds from Fukushi.
"This is my dream comes true. I am very happy," Yoshikawa said.
Two days later at 5000m, Fukushi finished second again. This time it was Hitomi Niiya who ran away from Fukushi in the last half of the race. Twenty-four years old Niiya, 2005 World Youth bronze medalist at 3000m, is a former high school sensation, and finished 13th at 5000m in the World Championships last year.
Takayuki Kishimoto, 22, won the 400m Hurdles, an event that is considered to be Japan’s own forte because of Kazuhiko Yamazaki, Shunji Karube and most of all Tamesue Dai, two-time World Championships medallist. Kishimoto won with a personal best of 48.41 from Akihiko Nakamura, who also finished second in the national championships in the Decathlon a week ago. Tamesue fell in the first hurdle and thus failed to make the final, and thus he retired from the elite competition as he indicated previously.
Yuzo Kanemaru won the 400m for the eighth time, while Satomi Kubokura won women’s 400m Hurdles for the sixth time, and thus both made the Olympic team for the second time.
Ken Nakamura for the IAAF
- Olympic Team Roster - The complete team roster, including those selected previously: