Skip to main content

Quotes From Niiya, Sato, Kawauchi, Yamagata and Iizuka at Japan's Pre-World Championships Press Conference

translated and edited by Brett Larner
source articles at bottom

The Japanese national team for August's Moscow World Championships appeared at a press conference on July 25 at the Ajinomoto National Training Center in Kita-ku, Tokyo.

10000 m national champion Hitomi Niiya (25, Team Univ. Ent.) revealed that recently she has gotten into an eccentrically bizarre new hobby.  "Watching videos of animals giving birth," she said.  As she gained more international experience at the Daegu World Championships and last year's London Olympics, anxiety became more and more of an issue because, she said,  "I'm in pursuit of perfection."  To help relieve the stress and anxiety she took up watching the videos on an online site.  "Did you know that when dogs give birth the mother eats the umbilical cord?  It's true," she said.  "We're not allowed to have pets in our team dormitory, so I go to pet shops all the time.  It helps me forget about running."  Is she going to run like an animal in Moscow?  Her goal is to make the top six.

Men's 10000 m national champion Yuki Sato (26, Team Nissin Shokuhin) ran an all-time Japanese third-best 13:13.60 for 5000 m at the July 13 KBC Night of Athletics in Belgium, missing the national record by 0.41 seconds but finishing only 8th.  "I definitely got to experience how high the standard is at the international level," he said with a tightened facial expression.  "If I let myself by satisfied with this then I'll never get any better."  In his second-straight World Championships Sato said he is shooting for a time goal.  "I want to break my PB in the 10000 m," he said with confidence.  With regard to placing he said, "I'm aiming for a place in the single digits.  I'm ready for that."

Marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (26, Saitama Pref. Gov't.) is also running his second-straight World Championships after running the marathon in Daegu.  "This is my second time, so I know that I have to do something to improve on last time," he said.  "I think the best approach is to make use of my experience.  I have to be ready for any type of race no matter how it develops.  In the first half I'm going to run in an inconspicuous position, and when somebody makes a move I will be right there to go after them."  Daegu was only Kawauchi's third time racing outside Japan, but, he said, "Since then I've raced in Australia, Germany, Bulgaria and Egypt and have gotten a lot of international experience, so I am not afraid to compete against the rest of the world.  I think that if I can bring my best performance then a top six finish is realistic."

In the men's sprints, 100 m national champion Ryota Yamagata (21, Keio Univ.), the rival of Yoshihide Kiryu (17, Rakunan H.S.) in the race for Japan's first sub-10 clocking, said, "Right now I'm feeling nervous.  I've got to turn that around at some point."  Kiryu was absent from the press conference, but up until the day before Yamagata was training with him and the rest of the 4x100 m relay team, focusing on improving the team's baton work. Seeing Kiryu in action forced Yamagata to up his time goal as well.  "Kiryu must have been training in secret because he was looking incredibly smooth," he said.

Asked about recent revelations of widespread doping at the top level of the sport Yamagata took a positive outlook, saying, "I'm a track fan too so it's really sad, but it gives the rest of us more of a chance, for sure."  With the cheating American and Jamaican athletes having kept him from realizing his dream of becoming Japan's first sprinter to make an Olympic men's 100 m final and from defending Japan's 4x100 m Olympic bronze, the downturn in those countries' fortunes can only be a plus this time around. Yamagata will run in Sunday's Twilight Games at Oda Field in Tokyo.  With few races on his schedule the Twilight Games' main purpose for him will be to maintain his racing sense, but, he said, "It's a valuable opportunity, so I want to run my best there."

Kiryu and Yamagata's 4x100 m relay teammate, 200 m national champion Shota Iizuka (22, Chuo Univ.), has promised a full revolution.  Doubling in the 200 m and the relay, Iizuka potentially faces three races in the individual event and two in the relay, something he is looking forward to.  "I'm going to run all five races with all my strength," he said.  "The relay final is on the last day, so I have to stay focused right to the end."  Earlier this month Iizuka won bronze at the World University Games in Kazan, Russia, and still feels some fatigue.  "My body is still a little stiff," he said, but he plans to sweat out the fatigue with his usual weight and training routines.  "I'm not feeling bad, so I just have to be careful about injury," he said.  Like his 100 m counterparts, Iizuka hopes to achieve his dream of Japan's first sub-20 time and then to follow up with a relay medal.

Source articles:

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Kawauchi Takes Six Minutes Off Kitakyushu Marathon Course Record to Lead Weekend Results

After a seven-week break from the marathon, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) scored his third-straight marathon win, second-straight course record and came just shy of a third-straight negative split as he ran a completely solo 2:11:46 to take almost six minutes off the Kitakyushu Marathon course record. Following up on negative split wins at December's Hofu Yomiuri Marathon and January's Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, the latter a course record by half an hour, Kawauchi was on his own in the first 100 m in Kitakyushu and never looked back.

In the hilly first 10 km his pace fluctuated from high-2:12 to high-2:10, but once Kawauchi got into the flatter section of the course he settled out on track for a high-2:11 to low-2:12 time. After a 1:05:51 split at halfway he slowed slightly on the outbound trip to the turnaround near 31 km, but picking it up again after 35 km he marked a 6:34 from 40 km to the finish to stop the clock at 2:11:46,  a 1:05:55 second half …

Kenyans Kabuu, Jemeli and Cheyech Lead Nagoya Women's Marathon Field

The Nagoya Women's Marathon is the largest women-only marathon in the world, one with a long history as an elite race and adapting to the times with a mass-participation field of 20,000. The last few years it has seen a series of dynamic, high-level performances by top Japanese women, from Sairi Maeda's 2:22:48 in 2015 to the 2:23:19 to 2:23:20 sprint finish battle between Tomomi Tanaka and Rei Ohara in 2016 to Yuka Ando's stellar 2:21:36 debut and teammate Mao Kiyota's 2:23:47 breakthrough last year.

Maeda, Ohara and Kiyota all return this year to face the Kenyan trio of Lucy Kabuu, Valary Jemeli and Flomena Cheyech Daniel. Kabuu went to high school in Japan before moving on to the big leagues, but she hasn't finished a marathon since her 2:20:21 in Dubai 2015. Cheyech also used to be based in Japan as is a familiar face here, winning the last two Saitama International Marathons. Jemeli is making her Japanese debut, and with a 2:21:57 win in Prague and a 2:20:53 …

Kipsang Talking Loud and Aga Mumbling Bold - Tokyo Marathon Preview

After stepping up to the big leagues last year with course records in the 2:03 and 2:19 range, the Tokyo Marathon hopes to go one better this year. Men's course record setter Wilson Kipsang (Kenya) is back, stepping up from a 2:03:50 prediction for Tokyo in January to a 2:02:50 world record prediction at Friday's pre-race press conference. In the unmentioned absence of women's course record breaker Sarah Chepchirchir the top-ranked woman is Ruti Aga (Ethiopia), coming in hot off a 1:06:39 win last month in Houston and turning heads at the press conference with a boldly mumbled 2:18:00 prediction.

Management for both Kipsang and Aga were skeptical to JRN of their athletes' predictions, people from each camp saying times two minutes slower would be more likely, one minute slower in a best-case scenario. But whatever the prediction, Kipsang was clear to fellow past champs Feyisa Lilesa (Ethiopia) and Dickson Chumba (Kenya) about one thing: he wants a more conservative fi…