Japan Races to Qualify For Global Track and Field Event
By Anna Novick
Japan Real Time
July 8 2011
For the first time in 28 years and 11 meets, there is a possibility that Japan Association of Athletic Federations (JAAF) will not send a sprinter to compete in the men’s 100 meter dash at the bi-annual International Association of Athletics Federations World Track and Field Championships in Daegu, South Korea later this summer. The only time Japan did not have a runner was at the inaugural meet at Helsinki in 1983.
Three Japanese sprinters competed in the semi-finals on Thursday at the first day of the Asian Athletics Championships in Kobe: Masashi Eriguchi, Yusuke Kotani and Sota Kawatsuru. All three athletes qualified for Friday’s final round. Mr. Eriguchi won his heat with 10.36 seconds—the fastest time across both heats. Mr. Kotani ran a 10.51 and Mr. Kawatsuru a 10.48. But none of these times came close to the qualifying standards JAAF requires for the World Track and Field Championships— 10.18 for an A-standard, and 10.25 for a B-standard.
The Japanese record for the 100 meter dash is 10.00, set by Koji Ito in 1998. The world record of 9.58 is held by Jamaica’s Usain Bolt. Mr. Eriguchi was at the same event in where Mr. Bolt set that record, having been chosen to compete for Japan in the 2009 championship in Berlin while he was a student at Waseda University. His current coach is Nobuharu Asahara, who helped Japan win the bronze medal at the 4×100 meter relay at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Mr. Eriguchi also holds the fourth fastest time in Japanese history with a 10.07 he set in 2009.
A combination of all of these made him Japan’s favorite candidate for Daegu. But he got a late start this year due to an ankle injury. After the semifinals on Thursday, Mr. Eriguchi told local reporters, “I have to win at the finals. If I can get up to my top speed, I can take 0.1 seconds off (of my time).”
At 6 p.m. on Friday evening, three Japanese men will toe the line with Asia’s finest sprinters. If one of them comes through with a win or runs under 10.25 seconds, he will have a chance to race for Japan again at Daegu.
They will have one sixth of a minute do it.