translated by Brett Larner
At a press conference in Tokyo on Mar. 16, officials named the members of the men's and women's marathon teams for November's Asian Games in Guangzhou, China. The men's team consists of Tomoyuki Sato (29, Team Asahi Kasei) and Yukihiro Kitaoka (27, Team NTN), while the women's team is made up of teammates Yuri Kano (31, Second Wind AC) and Kiyoko Shimahara (33, Second Wind AC). Apart from Shimahara, who won the silver medal at the 2006 Doha Asian Games, it will be the first time at the Games for all the athletes.
Sato finished 31st at December's Fukuoka International Marathon but rebounded with a 2nd place finish earlier this month at the Biwako Mainichi Marathon. Kitaoka was 4th in Biwako in his debut marathon, running a strong 2:10. Kano won last weekend's Nagoya International Women's Marathon to qualify for the team. She initially indicated that she would pass on the Asian Games in favor of November's New York City Marathon but later changed her mind. Shimahara was selected after coming in 2nd overall and as the top Japanese finisher at the Yokohama International Women's Marathon last November.
The timing of the Asian Games conflicts with ekiden season, making selection of the teams a difficult process due to other obligations on the athletes' side. Tokyo Marathon winner Masakazu Fujiwara (Team Honda) and Osaka International Women's Marathon 3rd placer Mari Ozaki (Team Noritz) did not express an intent to run the Asian Games marathon.