Of the 21 athletes named on Japan’s team for the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, Guiyang 2015, the six junior women represent their best hope of a medal.
The junior Japanese women have won team medals in seven of the past 11 editions of the World Cross Country Championships. After missing out on bronze in 2013, they will be keen to get back on the podium in the Chinese city of Guiyang on 28 March.
Azusa Sumi leads the junior women’s team. She finished 18th in the junior race at the 2013 World Cross when she was just 16. Miho Shimada and Nana Kuraoka, who finished second and third to Sumi at the recent Fukuoka International Cross Country meeting, are also on the team.
World University Games 5000m bronze medallist Mai Shoji leads a young senior women’s team in which the average age is 21.
Tomoka Kimura, who finished seventh in the 3000m at the 2011 World Youth Championships and 13th in the junior race at the World Cross earlier that year, makes her senior international debut.
Asian junior 5000m champion Maki Izumida is also on the senior women’s team, despite still being a junior.
Former World Cross representative Kazuma Kubota features on the senior men’s team, while world junior 5000m finalist Shota Onizuka heads the junior men’s team.
Japanese team for Guiyang 2015
Senior men: Kento Hanazawa, Kazuma Kubota, Hiroki Matsueda
Senior women: Yui Fukuda, Erika Ikeda, Maki Izumida, Tomoka Kimura, Miho Shimizu, Mai Shoji
Junior men: Junnosuke Matsuo, Haruki Minatoya, Shota Onizuka, Hiroyuki Sakaguchi, Fuminori Shimo, Ryoji Tatezawa
Junior women: Wakana Kabasawa, Nana Kuraoka, Yuri Nozoe, Yuka Sarumida, Miho Shimada, Azusa Sumi