translated by Brett Larner
The older of the Shimizu twins, Team Asahi Kasei's Masaya Shimizu, 28, secured his place on the men's marathon team for August's World Championships in Berlin with a 4th place finish in 2:10:50 at the Mar. 1 Biwako Mainichi Marathon. Masaya was the top Japanese finisher, beating out his brother Tomoya (Team Sagawa Express) who was 6th overall and 2nd Japanese in the brothers' first-ever head-to-head matchup in a marathon. His successful run adds to Masaya's happiness this month as he will be getting married on the 29th, but not all is wine and roses. Rikuren officials were harsh in their evaluation of the disparity between current world-class standards and the results of the Shimizu brothers and other Japanese runners. Former world record holder Paul Tergat (Kenya) won Biwako for the first time.
As Japanese runners fell out of the lead pack one by one, Masaya Shimizu kept himself in the fight until the very end. Running straight into a strong headwind, Masaya was the lone Japanese runner among the powerful foreigners at the head of the race. With 3 km to go his strength gave out and he finished 4th, beating his younger brother and capturing a Berlin team berth with a new PB by nearly 2 minutes. "I proved that the older brother's stronger," Masaya said afterwards in delight. "I'm really happy it turned out this way." In September last year he proposed to his girlfriend Mami, 29, a nursery school teacher; the couple's upcoming wedding on the 29th gave him added motivation in his run. Masaya's coach Takeshi Soh, one half of Japan's most famous pair of twin runners, commented, "After this performance he can go to his wedding with peace of mind."
However, Masaya Shimizu couldn't change the downward course of Japanese men's marathoning. With this race, Japanese runners have now lost the big three domestic men's marathons, Tokyo, Biwako and Fukuoka, a total of twelve times in a row. Rikuren Long Distance and Road Racing Special Committee Director Keisuke Sawaki expressed his frustration with the Biwako results, saying, "Shimizu's time didn't reach the standard we expected. We wanted at least a 2:08. I look forward to seeing Tokyo sweep away all of these clouds."