Two global championships medallists, Koji Murofushi and Yukifumi Murakami, extended their winning streaks to 16 and 11, respectively, at the 94th JPN national championships, held in Marugame from Friday June 4 to Sunday June 6.
It was the first time the national championships, which doubled as the selection meet for the upcoming Asian Games in Guangzhou, China, were held in the island of Shikoku.
Kensuke Takezawa took his first national title when he outkicked eight runners in the final lap to win the men’s 10,000m on the first day of the championships. On the other hand, Kayoko Fukushi led from start to finish to win the women’s 10,000m with 31:47.56. It was her sixth title over the distance. In the final day of the championships she also won the 5000m, although Ann Karindi of Kenya, a guest runner crossed the finish line first. Ryoko Kizaki finished second in both 5000m and 10,000m, while Yukiko Akaba finished third in both races. Yuka Murofushi, younger sister of Koji, won the women’s Hammer Throw for the fifth time with 63.50m. On the final day of the championships, she won the women’s DT for the 11th time.
The second day of the championships was not kind to many of the defending champions. The defending champion Shinji Takahira was only third in the men’s 200m in a race won by Kenji Fujimitsu with 20.38, a personal best. Daichi Sawano no-heighted in the men’s PV. Sawano came into the competition at 5.50m, the height cleared by Takafumi Suzuki in his first attempt and Hiroki Sasase in the second attempt. Thus Suzuki won while Sasase was second. Sawano was not able to clear the height and thus his winning streak at the National Championships came to an end at four. Yuichiro Ueno, defending champion at both 1500m and 5000m finished third at 1500m. A day later he finished 11th in 5000m.
Asami Chiba (formerly Tanno) also failed to defend her title at the women’s 400m. Chisato Tanaka won the race in a slow 54.46, thus ending the Chiba’s winning streak at three. As it turned out both Chiba and Takahira were behind in their training due to earlier injury problems. Yoshitaka Iwamizu, the defending champion chose not to contest 3000mSC this year, because he is preparing for his marathon debut. In his absence Takeshi Takeda won the competition. Actually he crossed the finish line in second place, but because Masatoshi Kikuchi, who crossed the finish line in 8:47.07, was disqualified Takeda was promoted to first. Kikuchi interfered with Takeda in the final home-straight.
Some defending champions were successful, however. Both Mika Yoshikawa at the women’s 1500m and Minori Hayakari at the women’s 3000mSC won the national title for the fifth time. It should be noted that Hayakari won every women’s 3000mSC contested since its inauguration. In the field events, Fumiyo Yoshida won the women’s Triple Jump while Yuki Ebihara won the women’s Javelin Throw.
On the men’s side, Kenji Narisako won the men’s 400m Hurdles. “Because Tamesue is not running this year, I must be the leader in this event,” said Narisako after the race. The winning time was slow 49.01, but Narisako’s preparation for the championships was far from perfect due to earlier injury problems.
Koji Murofushi threw 77.35m in his third throw to win the men’s Hammer Throw, thus extended his winning streak at the national championships to 16, the record in any event in the nationals. “Perhaps I could have thrown little further, but I will leave it to the next opportunity,” Murofushi said.
There was much anticipation for another national record in the women’s 100m, for Chisato Fukushima recently improved the national record to 11.21. Fukushima did win the race, from Momoko Takahashi but her winning time was only 11.30.
“The time was little disappointing, but I would like to see how my 11.30 translates to 200m tomorrow,” she said. A day later, their rivalry resumed at 200m. Fukushima started fast to take a commanding lead coming into the home straight. However, Takahashi worked her way back and moved ahead just before the finish. Takahashi won by one-hundredth of the second with 23.56. “She was so far ahead at the beginning, I thought, but my goal was to concentrate on running my own race. I thought the race would be decided in the final phase,” Takahashi said.
On the third day of the nchampionships, the defending champion won the men’s 100m, 400m and 800m. Masashi Eriguchi won the title of fastest Japanese from Naoki Tsukahara. “This year, I was only thinking about winning, so I am happy to win the race. My goal for the season is to win the Asian Games,” said Eriguchi.
Yuzo Kanemaru, a former high school sensation, won the men’s 400m for sixth consecutive time. Kanemaru’s first national title was won when he was still a high school student. “I felt the wind at the start, so I concentrated on winning today. With every victory, the pressure is mounting. I make sure I will not lose the title,” Kanemaru said. The national record holder Masato Yokota won the 800m.
Martin Mathathi of Kenya crossed the finish line first at men’s 5000m, but since he was a guest runner, the national championships went to Yuki Matsuoka, who held off Tomoya Onishi and the late charge by Kensuke Takezawa, the 10,000m champion.
In the 100m Hurdles, there was much anticipation for Asuka Terada, the national junior record holder, to break the national record. However, the wind did not cooperate. Terada won the race with 13.32 against the strong head wind of 2.0m/s. “I was running well in heat and semi-final, so I was hoping for a personal best in the final. My start was not very good, but the final phase of the race was quite good. My goal for the year is to challenge the 13 seconds barrier,” she said.
Kumiko Imura won the women’s Long Jump from the defending champion Sachiko Masumi. “It was technically a good jump despite the head wind. My goal for the year is to defend the Asian Game title,” said Imura (formerly Ikeda), who improved from 5.99m in the first round to 6.12m, 6.22m and then to 6.31m in the fifth round.
Yukifumi Murakami, the World bronze medalist in the Javelin Throw last year, won his specialty for the 11th time at the nationals, the second most titles after Murofushi’s 16 titles. His best throw of 80.60m, his first 80m throw in the national championships, was recorded in the sixth round.
Ken Nakamura for the IAAF
Men 100m 0.0m/s 1) Masashi Eriguchi 10.26 2) Naoki Tsukahara 10.45 3) Hirotaka Taguchi 10.47