by Brett Larner
video by naoki620
Following in the footsteps of his former Aoyama Gakuin University teammate Takehiro Deki's win at last weekend's Gold Coast Half Marathon, Yusuke Ogura became the first Japanese man since 2001 to win the World University Games half marathon taking gold in 1:04:41. Ogura, who played a key role in AGU's course record-setting Hakone Ekiden win in January and ran 1:02:03 at February's Marugame Half Marathon, led his AGU teammate and National University Half Marathon champion Tadashi Isshiki and Yuta Takahashi (Teikyo Univ.) in a sweep of the podium, the first time in World University Games history that men from a single country have taken all three half marathon medals.
A slow first 10 km kept most of the field together, but a move from the Japanese athletes shortly after that broke things up quickly, and by 15 km they were well ahead of chasers Soufiane Bouchikhi (Belgium) and Naoki Kudo (Komazawa Univ.), the runner-up behind Isshiki at the National University Half. Takahashi dropped off the AGU teammates' pace, and near 19 km Isshiki likewise lost touch with Ogura who cruised in for the win. Isshiki, 6 seconds slower than Ogura in Marugame, took silver in 1:04:52 with Takahashi sealing up bronze in 1:05:29. Bouchikhi was well back in 4th in 1:06:04, 6 seconds ahead of Kudo. Scheduled to run the 5000 m final later in the day after doubling in the 10000 m, Hironori Tsuetaki (Chuo Gakuin Univ.) started the half marathon but dropped out after only 5 km.
The women nearly achieved the same, Nanako Kanno of 2014 National University Women's Ekiden champion Ritsumeikan University and Ayumi Uehara (Matsuyama Univ.) setting the pace through 15 km accompanied only by Maki Izumida (Rikkyo Univ.) and World University Games 10000 m bronze medalist Yingying Zhang (China). Over the last 5 km Zhang pushed the pace, the Japanese runners falling off one by one until Zhang was in the clear for the win in 1:15:06. Kanno scored silver in 1:15:24 with Uehara close behind for bronze in 1:15:35. Izumida faded to 4th in 1:16:09 but stayed well ahead of Nilay Ersun (Turkey) who came up from the chase pack for 5th in 1:16:09. 2015 Kanto Regional University Championships 5000 m and 10000 m winner Sakurako Fukuuchi (Daito Bunka Univ.) had an off day, taking 7th in 1:17:44, while Sakie Arai (Osaka Gakuin Univ.), doubling in the half after running the 10000 m earlier in the week, dropped out after 5 km. Both the women's and men's teams also took gold in team scoring.
Tsuetaki was back as scheduled for the men's 5000 m, where he took 6th in a disappointing 14:13.54, far behind frontrunning winner Hayle Ibrahimov (Azerbaijan), whose 13:44.28 for gold gave him a margin of nearly 20 seconds. 10000 m bronze medalist Keisuke Nakatani (Komazawa Univ.) ran right behind Ibrahimov through 1400 m before suddenly hopping straight up and abruptly slowing. Wobbling down the home straight, Nakatani finished 10th in 14:33.85 in obvious pain. The only other individual Japanese competitor of the day, Yasuhiro Moro (Juntendo Univ.) took 7th in the men's long jump in 7.77 m in his first jump.
Better luck came in the men's relays, where Japan ended the Games with gold and bronze. The men's 4x100 m was the class of the field, coming into the final with the fastest time in the three heats and running like it, easily winning in 39.08 ahead of runner-up Poland, who clocked 39.50. South Africa initially took bronze, but on protest they were disqualified for a lane violation on the final handoff and Australia advanced to the medals in 39.71. But the story was not over yet as South Africa was reinstated in time for the award ceremony, Australia returning to 4th.
Japan was ranked only 5th in the men's 4x400 m but placed 4th just behind South Africa in 3:07.75, well back from winner Dominican Republic's 3:05.05 and runner-up U.S.A. Incredibly, again on protest South Africa was disqualified followed by a DQ for the U.S.A., giving Japan a final silver to cap its 2015 Gwangju World University Games haul.
World University Games Day Five Japanese Results
Gwangju, South Korea, July 12, 2015
click here for complete results
Men's Half Marathon
1. Yusuke Ogura (Japan) - 1:04:41
2. Tadashi Isshiki (Japan) - 1:04:52
3. Yuta Takahashi (Japan) - 1:05:29
4. Soufiane Bouchikhi (Belgium) - 1:06:04
5. Naoki Kudo (Japan) - 1:06:10
DNF - Hironori Tsuetaki (Japan)
Women's Half Marathon
1. Yingying Zhang (China) - 1:15:06
2. Nanako Kanno (Japan) - 1:15:24
3. Ayumi Uehara (Japan) - 1:15:35
4. Maki Izumida (Japan) - 1:16:09
5. Nilay Ersun (Turkey) - 1:16:57
7. Sakurako Fukuuchi (Japan) - 1:17:44
DNF - Sakie Arai (Japan)
Men's 5000 m Final
1. Hayle Ibrahimov (Azerbaijan) - 13:44.28
2. Zouhair Talbi (Morocco) - 14:02.06
3. Rinas Akhmadeev (Russia) - 14:05.88
4. Thijs Nijhuis (Denmark) - 14:12.83
5. Ross Proudfoot (Canada) - 14:13.30
6. Hironori Tsuetaki (Japan) - 14:13.54
10. Keisuke Nakatani (Japan) - 14:33.85
Men's 4x400 m Relay Final
1. Dominican Republic - 3:05.05
2. Japan - 3:07.75
3. Poland - 3:07.77
DQ - U.S.A.
DQ - South Africa
Men's 4x100 m Relay Final
1. Japan - 39.08
2. Poland - 39.50
3. South Africa - 39.68
4. Australia - 39.71
Men's Long Jump Final
1. Pavel Shalin (Russia) - 8.29 m +6.5 m/s
2. Vasilii Kopeikin (Russia) - 8.13 m +4.4 m/s
3. Rudolph Pienaar (South Africa) - 7.98 m +4.0 m/s
7. Yasuhiro Moro (Japan) - 7.77 m +0.7 m/s
(c) 2015 Brett Larner
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