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Yvonne Kanazawa and Jun Osakada in Lisbon

K. Ken Nakamura for IAAF

10 March 2001  - Lisbon - The Japanese team did not fare well on the first day of competition at the World Indoor Championships in Lisbon. On March 9, Yvonne Kanazawa and Jun Osakada competed in the women's 60m hurdles and men's 400m respectively. They went out in the first round of their respective heats, and they were disappointed. However, they were not overly disappointed, for they were not purely focused on this competition. The main reason they competed in Lisbon was to gauge their progress after winter base training. They confirmed what they need to work on, to accomplish their goals for the coming outdoor season.

For Yvonne Kanazawa, it was her start. "It is always the start (which I need to work on)," laughed Kanazawa after her first round competition where she was fifth in the third heat. It was her season’s best, however, as Kanazawa said after the race, "I ran one indoor meet this year, and it was not a good one," it was far from a satisfactory one. "I felt good warming up. During the warm-up, my practice starts were going well," said Kanazawa after the race. "But I lost concentration because of the two false starts," she continued. She had a terrible start (although you could not really see this from her reaction time: the start is much more than a reaction time) and was not able to recover from it in a short race like the 60mH. "My coach tells me I need blinkers, like race horses wear not to get distracted" she said.

Kanazawa reiterated that her main goal of the season is to make the final at the outdoor 100mH in Edmonton in five months time. As for her time goal, she has 12.80 in her mind. She knows that if she can achieve 12.80 in Edmonton, she can make the final. With indoor competition over, she will be focusing on outdoor competitions.

Although at this point, she is not sure where she will be competing during next few months in her road to Edmonton, she is sure of one thing. She will choose her competitions based on her main goal of the season, and that of course is making the final in Edmonton.

Whereas Kanazawa's problem was her loss of concentration at the start, Osakada's problem was running lane one for the first time in his life. After the race Osakada, the third fastest 400m runner in Japan said, "It was my first experience to run in the lane one indoor. It was awkward. I could not accelerate smoothly in the beginning."

The fact that he rarely runs indoors certainly did not help.

"It was my first indoor competition in two years. Yes, my last indoor competition was at the 1999 World Indoor in Maebashi" continued Osakada.

He pointed out that the problem is not with athletes. "There are not enough competitions in Japan for athletes to focus on indoor competitions. I think most of the athletes would like to run indoors, if there was a series of meets like here in Europe. At least I would run them, if such a series of meets were in Japan," continued Osakada. His inexperience in indoor competitions showed, and he finished disappointing last in his heat. After unable to accelerate in an early phase of the race where he finished dead last, he could not recover from it.

Turing to his outdoor goals, Osakada said, "I can talk about breaking a national 400m record (where he is the third fastest Japanese with a personal best of 45.05). But I think it is more important to run low 45 consistently at this point."

Osakada's reason why he decided to run here in Lisbon was similar to those of Kanazawa. "I have not done any speed training yet this winter. I want to know where I am in training after winter base training. For that I needed a competition."

As for the failure to field a 4x400m team by Japan, Osakada speculated. "I think they are tired from heavy winter training just like me." Let us hope that their heavy winter training will pay dividends in Edmonton in five month's time.