Skip to main content

Marathon Greats React to Hara's Call for Shimoda to be Put on Rio Team

http://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/20160229/ath16022905000003-n1.html
http://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/20160229/ath16022905030007-n1.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

After Aoyama Gakuin University second-year Yuta Shimoda, 19, ran a 2:11:34 debut to finish 10th overall as the second Japanese man in Sunday's Tokyo Marathon, AGU head coach Susumu Hara called for Shimoda to be put on the Rio team, calling it essential for Shimoda's development before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.  While Katsumi Sakai, one of the JAAF executives in charge of team selection, responded flatly, "We do not take the future into account," two of Japan's marathon greats, Olympians Takeyuki Nakayama and Hiromi Taniguchi, gave more nuanced views on Hara's statement.

Takeyuki Nakayama, 4th place, 1988 Seoul Olympics and 1992 Barcelona Olympics marathons

I can understand how Hara feels, but there are a lot of opportunities to get marathon experience even without the Olympics.  Get Shimoda racing in Europe and around the world, not in Japan.  There's nothing in the selection criteria about future potential, so it would set a bad precedent for other runners.  You have to look more at the big picture.

Hiromi Taniguchi, 1991 Tokyo World Championships marathon gold medalist, 1992 Barcelona Olympics and 1996 Atlanta Olympics marathoner

It was a truly superb performance for Shimoda to run 2:11:34 at age 19.  But I think it is premature for Coach Hara to be asserting, "Shimoda should be made a major favorite for the team."

Shimoda got into his own rhythm in the mostly-Japanese second pack, then dropped them.  That's a very different thing from going into the lead pack and trying to survive.  A 2:11 says that he doesn't have the speed to target track races yet either.  Rather than using the Olympics to gain experience, I think it would be enough to get experience running other Japanese and international races.

This trend we are seeing of university runners including Shimoda trying marathons while still students will have an impact on the future.  The marathon requires profound mental strength and is not something coaches should force.  It is more important that it come from the will of the athlete.  No mistakes should be made with timing.

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Kawauchi Brothers Repeat Father's Day Okinoshima Ultra Sweep

For the second year in a row brothers Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) and Yoshiki Kawauchi (unattached) returned to their late father's home island of Okinoshima to dominate the Father's Day Okinoshima Ultramarathon 50 km and 100 km.

Yoshiki, the younger of the two, ran the 100 km for the third time. In his 2015 debut he suffered mightily on the way in to an 11:21:52 finish. Returning with a year's more experience in 2016, he won in a course record 7:20:31. This time he was out fast in search of his first sub-7 clocking, averaging 4:00/km at 40 km through the hilliest part of the course before starting to slow. At 60 km he was still on track for a sub-7, splitting 4:07:10, but when he hit the series of three >100 m elevation gain climbs just after 60 km sub-7 slipped out of reach. Still well under course pace with a 7:12:27 projection at 80 km Yoshiki struggled on the last 100 m climb just over 5 km from the finish, coming in for the win in 7:29:06. Yoshiki has…

Japanese National Track and Field Championships Preview

The 101st edition of Japan's National Track and Field Championships takes place Friday through Sunday at Osaka's Yanmar Stadium Nagai. It's a strange time in some ways. Despite the overall upward trend spurred on by the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the count of athletes who might make the London World Championships off their performances at Nationals is low. The marathon, walks, combined events and relays aside, based on current qualifying times only the men's 100 m, women's 5000 m and women's 10000 m could field full three-member squads, and not many events look set to join that list. The progress over the last few years in men's distance on the track seems to have stalled, with nobody qualified for London in the 5000 m and the only man qualified in the 10000 m already a scratch. Is it a just a hiccup or a sign of problems in the buildup to 2020?

Visit the JAAF's National Track and Field Championships website for entry and start lists, live results, photos an…

Ageo City Half Marathon Leads Weekend Action - Preview

by Brett Larner

Rainy weather lies ahead for a busy weekend of racing across the country.  Track is a part of the calender from April through December, and this weekend features several large time trial meets including the Shizuoka Long Distance Time Trials Meet and, closer to Tokyo, the Nittai University Time Trials Meet.  Men's 5000 m is the focus at Nittai with 37 separate heats in one day, the fastest heat led by 12 Japan-based Africans including Bedan Karoki (DeNA RC), Ronald Kwemoi (Team Komori Corp.) and Paul Kuira (Team Konica Minolta).

The main action this weekend, however, happens on the roads, and there's no question that the Ageo City Half Marathon is the main event.  Ageo, the race that university coaches use to thin their rosters ahead of deciding their lineups for January's Hakone Ekiden, is one of two Japanese half marathons vying for the title of world's greatest half, locked in a duel with March's National University Half Marathon to produce the d…