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JAAF Bows to Public Pressure With New Selection Policies for 2017 World Championships Marathon Team

translated by Brett Larner

At a Tokyo-area press conference on May 24 the JAAF announced the selection criteria for the marathon teams for the August, 2017 London World Championships.  The new selection criteria represent a significant change from past policies in which athletes' positions on Olympic and World Championships teams have not been guaranteed until after the completion of the final selection race.  Under the new policy, an athlete who breaks the JAAF's pre-determined selection standard time and finishes as the top Japanese at one of the selection races will be guaranteed a place on the team.

The selection standards are 2:07:00 for men and 2:22:30 for women, times that correspond to a 7th-place world ranking in recent results.  Times run in domestic or international races will be counted during a period of time beginning in January this year.  Any athlete with the time standard who takes the top Japanese position in one of the three men's and women's selection races next winter will be immediately named to the team.

During the qualifying cycle for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics marathon team, the management of Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) raised the issue of the problems with the seleciton process after she won January's Osaka International Women's Marathon under the JAAF selection standard.  When she was not immediately named to the team she declared that she had no choice but to run another selection race, creating a popular uproar.  JAAF Development Committee chairman Kazunori Asaba told the executive board, "The fact is that voices were loudly raised from all directions saying that when someone breaks the selection standard and wins, that's when you have to put them on the team," suggesting that the new selection policy was a direct reaction to the problems that arose surrounding Fukushi.

In addition to the new auto-selection criteria, athletes will be named to the World Championships team based factors such as their time, placing and racing style at the domestic selection races.  The top three Japanese men at the Fukuoka International Marathon, Tokyo Marathon and Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon and the top Japanese man at the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon, and the top three Japanese women at the Saitama International Marathon, Osaka International Women's Marathon and Nagoya Women's Marathon and the top Japanese woman at the Hokkaido Marathon will all come into consideration.  The men's and women's teams will each consist of three runners and one alternate.

Translator's note: Along with the new auto-selection process, other significant changes mentioned above include the relaxation of the men's standard from 2:06:30 to 2:07:00 and the reintroduction of an alternate to the national team lineup.


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