translated by Brett Larner
Japanese men's 3000 m, 10000 m and marathon national record holder Toshinari Takaoka (38, Team Kanebo) held a press conference on Mar. 16 to announce that he will retire from professional running following the Mar. 22 Tokyo Marathon. On Apr. 1 he will join Team Kanebo's coaching staff.
The impetus for Takaoka's retirement came on Feb. 4 when he seriously strained the muscle in his left calf while training in Yamaguchi Prefecture for the Tokyo Marathon. "I felt that I'm no longer able to do ideal training for a serious marathon," Takaoka told reporters at the press conference in explaining his decision to retire. "I understood that it would be better if I made this race my last. I made the choice myself and I can accept it."
Takaoka is a native of Kyoto. He attended Rakunan High School and Ryukoku University before joining Team Kanebo in 1993. He ran track events at the 1996 Atlanta and 2000 Sydney Olympics, placing 7th in the 5000 m in Atlanta and 7th again in the 10000 m in Sydney. He set the Japanese national record of 2:06:16 at the 2002 Chicago Marathon but did not make the Athens or Beijing Olympic teams.
Takaoka reflected on his career. "Since I started in junior high school I have been a runner for 26 years. There are dreams of mine which didn't come true, but I have always given everything to be competitive at the world level. I still think about 'Being in the Olympic Marathon,' but I know that I was able to set my [marathon] record because I stayed focused on getting as fast as I could on the track until I was 31."
As a selection race for the World Championships marathon, the top Japanese finisher in Tokyo will be named to the national team. "If I were chosen for the team I would be delighted to wear the national uniform one more time," Takaoka admitted, but in light of the injury he revealed at the press conference it looks as though it will be difficult for him to come out on top this time.
Update: Another article with some other quotes can be found here.