Atsushi Sato (JPN) (© c)
The Japanese team for tomorrow’s 2nd IAAF World Road Running Championships, Udine, Italy (14 October) was selected from the top finishers of the All Japan Corporate team Half Marathon Championships in March, Sendai Half Marathon in May, and the Sapporo Half Marathon in July.
Men’s team consists of Kazuhiro Maeda, who won the All Japan Corporate team Half Marathon Championships in 62:10, Kenji Noguchi, who was 3rd at Sendai Half marathon in 1:03:04, Atsushi Sato, who was third with 61:37 at Sapporo Half Marathon and Tetsuo Nishimura, who was fifth with 62:33 also in Sapporo Half Marathon.
Noguchi was also fourth at the Marugame Half Marathon with 62:27, and 10th in All Japan corporate team Half Marathon championships. Maeda is an accomplished track runner, for he was 17th at 10,000m in the 2007 World Championships, while Sato excels in both 10,000m and the Marathon. He has run 27:56.86 for the 10,000m and 2:08:36 for the Marathon. In fact Sato is the most talented runner on the team. Legendary marathon runner Toshihiko Seko tells us that he won’t be surprised if Sato run a 2:05 marathon. Sato also excels at the Ekiden. For example, in the January’s New Year’s Ekiden, Sato covered the uphill (60m elevation gain) 15.9Km fifth stage in 45:14, more than one minute faster than the second place runner (46:26). In September, Sato married Miho Sugimori, 800m national record holder. Their goal is to qualify for the Beijing Olympic team.
Turning attention to the women’s side, the team consists of: Akane Taira and Yoshimi Ozaki, who was second and third, respectively, at the All Japan Corporate team Half Marathon Championships, Chisato Osaki and Yurika Nakamura, who was fifth and eighth, respectively, at the Sapporo Half Marathon, and Yuko Machida, who was third at Sendai Half Marathon.
Two of the team members have run in these road race championships before, Taira ran in the 2005 World Half Marathon Championships, while Yurika Nakamura ran in the 2006 World Road Running Championships, finishing very respectable seventh. Taira, who is coached by Hiromi Taniguchi, 1991 World Marathon Champion, has a half marathon best of 1:10:29 recorded in 2005.
The most promising young and up and coming runner on the team is 20-years-old Chisato Osaki, who won her Half Marathon debut at the Matsue Ladies Half Marathon in March. Her winning time, 69:25, was a new course record, breaking the record previously held by Yoko Shibui, her teammate and the national record holder at 10,000m. Osaki also excels at 10Km. In January of 2006 Osaki set a national high school record, 32:50, for 10Km. A year later in January of 2007, Osaki ran 31:49 for 10Km anchor leg of the Inter-Prefectural Ekiden championships, in the process passing ten runners.
Ken Nakamura for the IAAF
Kazuhiro Maeda 1st in All JPN Corporate team Half Marathon Championships
Kenji Noguchi 3rd in Sendai Half Marathon
Atsushi Sato 3rd in Sapporo Half Marathon
Tetsuo Nishimura 5th in Sapporo Half Marathon
Akane Taira 2nd in All JPN Corporate team Half Marathon Championships
Yoshimi Ozaki 3rd in All JPN Corporate team Half Marathon Championships
Yuko Machida 3rd in Sendai Half Marathon
Chisato Osaki 1st in Matsue Ladies Half Marathon, 5th in Sapporo Half Marathon
Yurika Nakamura 8th in Sapporo Half Marathon