Skip to main content

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

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.


Most-Read This Week

Kawauchi and Kiyara Headline Wan Jin Shi Marathon

Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) returns to Taiwan's Wan Jin Shi Marathon this Sunday for his marathon of the post-Yuta Shitara era. The runner-up in Wan Jin Shi in 2016, Kawauchi is ranked #1 in the field and comes to Wan Jin Shi with wins in his last three marathons but faces a solid field including fellow sub-2:10 man Peter Kiplagat Sitenei, last year's runner-up Tsegaye Debele (Ethiopia), and the only man to beat him last time around, 2016 winner and course record holder William Chebon Chebor (Kenya). Kawauchi plans to use the hilly race as a tune-up for his main marathon of the spring season, April's Boston Marathon.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Rael Kiyara Nguriatukei (Kenya), winner of the 2012 Hamburg Marathon before being stripped of her title and suspended for a positive post-race test for norandrosterone, has the fastest recent time in the women's field with a 2:26:22 winning time at last year's Chongqing Marathon. Close behind is Chemtai …

1500 m Olympian Assefa Wins Nagoya, 22-Year-Old Sekine 2:23:07 Debut

Two-time 1500 m Olympian Meskerem Assefa (Ethiopia) ran down favorite Valary Jemeli (Kenya) with 4 km to go to win the 2018 Nagoya Women's Marathon, with the home town crowd wowed by the debut of the latest next big thing, 22-year-old Hanami Sekine (Japan Post).

Supported by three pacers, a lead pack of seven including Assefa, Jemeli, Sekine, Ethiopian Bahraini Merima Mohamed, Saitama International Marathon winner Flomena Cheyech Daniel (Kenya) and top-ranked Japanese women Reia Iwade (Dome) and Rei Ohara (Tenmaya) went through halfway in a decent 1:11:32. This proved too hot for a few of the past next big things to have run well in Nagoya the last few years, as Sairi Maeda (Daihatsu), 2:22:48 in Nagoya three years ago, and Mao Kiyota (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC), 2:23:47 last year, were off the back of the pack in the first 10 km.

By 25 km Cheyech, Ohara and Iwade joined them off the back, leaving only Sekine in contention with the African trio of Jemeli, Assefa and Mohammed. Sekine, a…

Japan Dominates Asian Cross Country Championships

Japan dominated the 14th Asian Cross Country Championships Thursday in Guiyang, China, winning all four team gold medals to hold the hosts China back to silver in every race.

Japan's only individual gold came in the Junior Women's race, one of its usual areas of strength. Yuna Wada led a Japanese sweep of the top four positions to win the 6 km race in 20:43 with scoring teammates Ririka Hironaka and Tomomi Musembi Takamatsu just behind.

Wada Yuna of Japan wins Junior Women’s 6km cross country race of 14th Asian Cross Country Championship . Japan also won Team championship — Asian Athletics (@asianathletics) March 15, 2018
With the meet also serving as China's National Championships Chinese athletes won the individual gold in the other three races, Dan Li, Cairen Suolong and Jianhua Peng all showing better closing speed to beat their Japanese rivals by 3~4 seconds. Li won the Senior Women's 8 km by 3 seconds over Japan's Yukari Abe, leadi…