Koji Murofushi returns to action with a 80m+ throw in Kawasaki (Kazutaka Eguchi/Agence SHOT) © Copyright
General News

Murofushi and Shibui superb at Japanese Championships

The 92nd Japanese National Championships, which doubled as the Beijing Olympic Trials started on Thursday 26 June and concluded yesterday (Sunday 29) at the newly refurbished Todoroki stadium in Kawasaki, a city just south of Tokyo. 

The winner of each event was selected automatically for the Olympic team, provided he/she had cleared the Olympic “A” standard either beforehand or at the meet. 

On the first day, Takayuki Matsumiya, who had the “A” standard in the Cardinal Invitational in Palo Alto won the men’s 10,000m and so made his first Olympic team, and two days later he also clinched a spot in the 5000m line-up too.

Shibui makes Olympic team at long last

On the second day, Yoko Shibui, national 10,000m record holder who failed to qualify for the Olympic marathon team twice, in 2004 and 2008, finally made the Olympic team by winning the women’s 10,000m.

On relatively warm night (23.5C and 75 % humidity at 8PM), Yukiko Akaba took the lead initially and led for little more than 1000m before Shibui took over and did all the leading until 8000m. Seven runners were still together at 4800m, but soon after passing 5600m, the lead pack was reduced to four (Shibui, Akaba, Kayoko Fukushi and Noriko Matsuoka). All four had already cleared “A” standard.

Just before 7600m, Matsuoka fell behind, leaving three runners in front. Then at 8000m Fukushi decided to end all the suspense by breaking away.  Down the back-straight Fukushi drew away from Shibui and Akaba, but by 8400m they were back as a pack despite 71 seconds lap. Akaba went into the lead, but Fukushi took it back after 8800m. With one lap to go, as the clock read 30:09, Fukushi was still in the lead followed by Akaba and Shibui.

Akaba started her sprint with 300m to go, and opened the gap on Fukushi. Realizing that she had to chase Akaba, Shibui passed Fukushi and went after Akaba.  Shibui caught up with Akaba with 200m to go. Coming into the home-straight just behind Akaba, Shibui took the lead halfway into the home-straight and won by a stride.

“Since I really want to run in the Olympics at least once, I am very happy,” said Shibui. 

Only the winner, Shibui, is guaranteed a spot on the Olympic team.  Akaba and Fukushi must wait upon the committee's decision. Since the JOC decides the maximum number of Track & Field athletes to be sent to the Olympics, JAAF must work within that limitation. Thus there is no guarantee for Akaba nor Fukushi.

Murofushi makes late start to season

Because he had lower back problem, the national championships is the first competition of the season for the defending Olympic champion Koji Murofushi.  With his first throw of 76.99m, the competition was essentially over, for no other thrower in the field was capable of throwing that far.

Murofushi then threatened the 80m line three times before he went over it in his fifth throw with 80.86m. He improved to 80.98m in his final throw.

"The result was better than I expected.  It was as if the fans cheering pushed the hammer from behind. Since it was my first competition of the year, my form was little bit tight, but the final two throws were quite good," said Murofushi. 

It was 14th straight national championships for Murofushi, a member of IAAF Athletes' Commission. He is running for the IOC Athletes' Commission, which will be selected in Beijing Olympics. 

Tamesue digs deep in final straight to gain selection

Dai Tamesue, two time World Championships medallist (bronze in 2001 and 2005), was having multiple injury problem earlier this season and was not sure himself if he was ready to race or not. 

The final on Friday (27) was only his third race of the season. Although he was not sure of his shape, Tamesue still went out fast leading Kenji Narisako, the second fastest hurdler in Japan. Although Narisako caught up with Tamesue just as both entered the home-straight, Tamesue dug deep and pulled ahead after the final hurdle.  He won and thus automatically selected for the Olympic team, his third.

“This is my happiest victory at the nationals,” said Tamesue. 
 
Takahira defeats Suetsugu

The 2003 World Championships bronze medallist, Shingo Suetsugu was not so fortunate.  Although he does not have any injury problem, Suetsugu had trouble rounding into shape for the nationals. It showed in the home straight as Suetsugu lost momentum and finished only third at 200m. Shinji Takahira won the race and clinched the Olympic spot for the second straight time. “Although I defeated Suetsugu, the time was too slow. I need to work harder,” said Takahira. 

Another “A” standard bearer who had trouble in the nationals is Kumiko Ikeda in the Long Jump.  She started the competition with two-straight fouls.  Although she jumped 6.38m in her third jump and made the top eight, she could only improve to 6.43m and thus only finished third. Her Olympic team position is tenuous at best. 

Three more athletes guaranteed Olympic places on day 3

On the third day (28), three national record holders were automatically selected for the Olympic team.  Takayuki Matsumiya, who set a national 5000m record last year, won the 5000m and thus clinched the spot on the 5000m along with the 10,000m spot he gained on the first day. 

Other national record holders who made the team automatically were Daichi Sawano in the Pole Vault and Minori Hayakari in women’s 3000m Steeplechase. Masato Naito also clinched the spot in the 110m Hurdles by winning the race.

Kobayashi charges away from Fukushi

The highlight of the fourth day was showdown between Kayoko Fukushi, the national 5000m record holder and Yuriko Kobayashi, national 1500m record holder.  With Yoko Shibui leading the race in the middle part of the race, Kobayashi, medallist at World Youth as well as World Junior Championships, stayed just behind Fukushi.

With 1000m Fukushi went to the front and only Kobayashi, Akaba and Shibui covered her move. Then with 500m to go, Kobayashi charged ahead and run away from her competitions, and automatically selected for the team.

“I was confident of covering a multiple attack by Fukushi,” said Kobayashi. “In the Olympics, I want to make the final and experience the world class race.”

Yoshitaka Iwamizu at 3000m Steeplechase, Naoki Tsukahara in the men’s 100m, Yuzo Kanemaru at men’s 400m won their events and because they have already cleared “A” standard, they are automatically selected for the team. 

Ken Nakamura for the IAAF


RESULTS

Day 1

Men

10,000m   
1)  Takayuki Matsumiya  27:51.27
2)  Ryuji Ohno  27:55.16
3)  Yu Mitsuya  27:58.63 
4)  Kazuhiro Maeda  28:00.29
5)  Satoshi Irifune  28:05.44
6)  Masato Kihara  28:06.48 
7)  Tomoaki Bungo  28:07.20
7)  Terukazu Omori  28:07.20 

1000m  2:43.4    Kihara
2000m  5:29.2    Kihara
3000m  8:18.3    Kihara
4000m  11:08.6   Kihara
5000m  13:59.8   Kihara
6000m  16:49.5   Kihara
7000m  19:40.2   Kihara
8000m  22:33.9   Kihara 
9000m  25:12.1  Matsumiya   

Women

TJ
1)  Fumiyo Yoshida  13.12m  0.6m/s
2)  Ryoko Misawa  12.81m  2.1m/s

PV
1)  Tomomi Abiko  4.10m 
2)  Mami Nakano  4.00m

HT 
1) Yuka Murofushi  62.98m
2) Aya Masumi 62.14m 

JT
1)  Yuki Ebihara  56.71m
2)  Yuko Kojima  54.54m
3)  Emika Yoshida  54.22m 
 

Day 2

Men

200m    -1.2m/s
1)  Shinji Takahira  20.74
2)  Hitoshi Saito  20.80 
3)  Shingo Suetsugu  21.16

400mH 
1)  Dai Tamesue  49.17 
2)  Kenji Narisako  49.47 
3)  Takayuki Koike  50.09 

HT
1)  Koji Murofushi  80.98m  (76.99m, 79.82m, 79.52m, 79.61m, 80.86m, 80.98m) 
2)  Hiroaki Doi  69.57m

Decathlon
1)  Hiromasa Tanaka  7594 
2)  Daisuke Ikeda  7550

Women

200m  -1.1m/s
1)  Sakie Noguoka  23.84
2)  Maki Wada  24.00

10,000m
1)  Yoko Shibui  31:15.07 
2)  Yukiko Akaba  31:15.34
3)  Kayoko Fukushi  31:18.79 
4)  Noriko Matsuoka  31:41.90
5)  Yoshimi Ozaki  32:01.07 
6)  Kayo Sugihara  32:02.15 
7)  Mari Ozaki  32:03.17 
8)  Megumi Seike  32:04.79 
9)  Yuri Kano  32:10.93 

1000m 3:06.4   Akaba
2000m 6:14.2 Shibui
3000m 9:22.9 Shibui
4000m 12:32.9 Shibui
5000m 15:42.3 Shibui
6000m 18:50.9 Shibui
7000m 21:59.7 Shibui
8000m 25:08.8  Shibui
9000m 28:11.8 Fukushi 

400mH
1)  Saotmi Kubokura  56.21 
2)  Sayaka Aoki  56.93

LJ
1)  Sachiko Masumi  6.57m  1.2m/s
2)  Yoshimi Sato  6.43m  1.8m/s
3)   Kumiko Ikeda  6.42m (1.0m/s) 

HJ
1)  Miyuki Fukumoto  1.86m
2)  Kiyoka Fujisawa  1.78m

SP
1)  Yoko Toyonaga  15.66m 
2)  Yukiko Shirai  14.93m 

Heptathlon 
1)  Yuki Nakata  5576
2)  Konomi Asazu  5163  
 

Day 3

Men

800m
1)  Takeshi Kuchino  1:48.83
2)  Masato Yokota  1:48.95 
3)  Hiroshi Sasano  1:49.37 

5000m
1)  Takayuki Matsumiya  13:47.81
2)  Kensuke Takezawa  13:49.73
3)  Osamu Ibata  13:51.82

1000m   2:43.1     Takuya Nakayama
2000m   5:35.6      Naoki Shibata
3000m   8:28.5      Hidekazu Sato
4000m  11:10.2     Satoshi Irifune 

110mH  -0.2m/s
1)  Masato Naito  13.66 
2)  Tasuku Tanonaka  13.73 
3)  Yuji Ohashi  13.83 

LJ
1)  Yohei Sugai  8.13m  3.0m/s
2)  Naohiro Shinada  7.93m  1.2m/s   (second best 7.84m)
3)  Hideaki Shikama  7.93  0.6m/s   (second best 7.82m)

PV
1)  Daichi Sawano  5.70m 
2)  Takafumi Suzuki  5.50m

SP
1)  Yohei Murakawa  17.50m
2)  Satoshi Hatase  17.25m

Women

800m
1)  Miho Sato (formerly Sugimori)   2:05.37
2)  Ayako Jinnouchi  2:05.60
3)  Ruriko Kubo  2:05.85

100mH  -1.5m/s
1)  Asuka Terada  13.51
2)  Rena Jyoshita  13.53 
3)  Mami Ishino  13.59 

3000mSC
1)  Minori Hayakari  9:48.43 
2)  Kazuka Wakatsuki  9:54.93 
3)  Yoshika Tatsumi  10:01.59

1000m   3:11.5  Hayakari
2000m   6:29.4   Hayakari 


Day 4

Men

100m   -0.2m/s
1)  Naoki Tsukahara  10.31
2)  Nobuharu Asahara  10.37
3)  Shintaro Kimura  10.48

400m
1)  Yuzo Kanemaru  45.69 
2)  Mitsuhiro Abiko  46.23
3)  Yusuke Ishizuka  46.36 

1500m
1)  Fumikazu Kobayashi  3:49.96 
2)  Yasuhiro Tago  3:50.01

3000mSC
1)  Yoshitaka Iwamizu  8:29.75 
2)  Hiroyoshi Umegae  8:36.96
3)  Aoi Matsumoto  8:40.26 

TJ
1)  Kazuyoshi Ishikawa  16.30m  0.4m/s
2)  Shinya Sogame  16.22m  0.1m/s

HJ
1)  Hikaru Tsuchiya  2.18m
2)  Naoyuki Daigo  2.15m

JT
1)  Yukifumi Murakami  79.71m
2)  Yasuo Ikeda  76.50m

Women

100m  0.4m/s
1)  Chisato Fukushima  11.48
2)  Tomoko Ishida  11.63 

400m
1)  Asami Tanno  52.68
2)  Satomi Kubokura  53.48 

1500m
1)  Mika Yoshikawa  4:12.79
2)  Nanae Kuwashiro  4:14.41

5000m
1)  Yuriko Kobayashi  15:11.97
2)  Yukiko Akaba  15:13.96 
3)  Kayoko Fukushi  15:16.27
4)  Yoko Shibui  15:19.29 
5)  Kayo Sugihara  15:21.12
6)  Noriko Matsuoka  15:32.79
7)  Akane Taira  15:35.61
8)  Kazue Kojima  15:35.87

1000m   3:06.0    Yoshimi Ozaki
1000m   6:06.9    Yoko Shibui
3000m   9:12.0      Shibui
4000m   12:18.8    Kayoko Fukushi

DT
1)  Yuka Murofushi  53.36m 
2)  Tsuruyo Suzuki  47.96m