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National Champion Asahi Kasei Team Welcomes its First-Ever Kenyan Members

translated by Brett Larner

On May 15 ekiden and marathon powerhouse Asahi Kasei welcomed its first-ever foreign-born team members, Kenyans Kenneth Kiprop Kipkemoi, 32, and Abraham Kapsis Kipyatich, 24, to the team's base in Nobeoka, Miyazaki. The highly accomplished Kipkemoi holds a 10000 m best of 26:52.65 far superior to the 27:29.69 Japanese national record held by Asahi Kasei's Kota Murayama, 24, and his 5000 m and half marathon bests of 13:03.07 and 59:01 are likewise better than the Japanese national records. By comparison, Kipyatich is still young with room to grow further in the future.

Regarding the reinforcement of the team's strength, an Asahi Kasei spokesperson commented, "The mission of our athletics program is to produce athletes who can compete on the front lines at events like the Olympics, World Championships and major marathons. After examining a variety of options for strategies to pursue that goal we opted to hire two foreign athletes."

At this year's New Year Ekiden corporate men's national championships 30 out of 37 teams in the field had foreign-born athletes. In their midst, Asahi Kasei became the first all-Japanese team to win in 18 years. Founded in 1946, the Asahi Kasei team has a long history of producing many of the Japanese long distance world's best, from twins Shigeru and Takeshi Soh to Rio Olympics marathoner Satoru Sasaki, 31, to current wonder twins Kenta and Kota Murayama. By training regularly with two talented athletes from the Long Distance Kingdom of Kenya its competitive abilities are likely to grow even stronger.


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