Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Fujiwara and Sato Likely Choices for Asian Games

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Following the final selection race on Mar. 7, Rikuren director Keisuke Sawaki discussed the candidates for the two men's marathon spots available on the Japanese national team for November's Asian Games in Guangzhou, China. "Now that we have the results from the three selection races [Fukuoka, Tokyo and Biwako], I would like to settle the lineup."

Director Sawaki's indicated his first choice is Masakazu Fujiwara (Team Honda), the winner of February's Tokyo Marathon. "He set a brilliant example in Tokyo. His newfound strength has brought him to the forefront." Rikuren director of men's marathoning Yasushi Sakaguchi suggested that he favors Biwako runner-up Tomoyuki Sato (Team Asahi Kasei). "In the pressure of a selection race he had the fastest time [by a Japanese runner] and with just a little more luck would have gone under 2:10. He at least cleared one of the main criteria."

In Fukuoka the top Japanese finisher was general division entrant Tadashi Shitamori (Team Yasukawa Denki). Shitamori finished 9th but beat Sato in the process.

Translator's note: Prior to Biwako yesterday Tokyo runner-up Arata Fujiwara (Team JR Higashi Nihon) was also in contention for the Asian Games team. In past years a marathon medal at the Asian Games has secured a Japanese runner a spot on the following year's World Championships team. With Japan's only major competition on the men's side at the Games being Koreans and Qatari Kenyans, of which there are at maximum two each, the chance of at least one medal is high enough that it has happened every time the Asian Games have ever been held. As such, the Asian Games are the easiest way for a Japanese marathoner to make the World Championships.