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Posted: February 22, 2013  

Athletics: Tokyo Marathon Elite Athletes Press Conference

From Ken Nakamura

Tokyo Marathon invited athletesí press conference was held on Friday February 22, two days before the big race. Womenís invited runners took the stage first. Aberu Kebede, Yoshimi Ozaki, Irina Mikitenko and Azusa Nojiri were attendees. Here is a brief summary of quotes from the press conference.

Aberu Kebede (recorded fastest three race season average in history, 2:21:42):

My training has gone well. I have prepared well. If God permits, I want to win.

(on the primary reason for her improvement last year, the question from Naoko Takahashi, who will be covering the womenís leaders for the television broadcast) Improved time last year was due to better training. I even run shorter distance with faster pace over the pavement. I did a lots of training over the pavement.

Yoshimi Ozaki (2009 World Championships marathon silver medalist)

All the races I have run recently were qualifying races for Olympics or World Championships. So when I decide to run this race, I thought I can run the race without any pressure. However, as my form improved with training, I started to feel that I want to fight it out for a win. Very good runners from abroad are invited so I donít expect easy race. I donít want to run passive race from the start but instead run aggressively.

I will decide to go with the pace or not after I hear the planned pace by the pace makers. If the pace is way above my current form permits, then I might not go with the pace makers, but basically I want to keep up with the pace as much as possible.

(on the reason for going to semi-retirement, question from Naoko Takahashi) I realize that many runners are running well into their thirties, but in my case I feel the difference from the days in my twenties.

I do realize I can still run well if I changed my training to suit my age. Running Olympic was my big goal. Although I am no way satisfied with my Olympic results, now that big goal was fulfilled I was somewhat at loss as to what to do next. So I thought by leaving the sports for a while, I wanted to see how I will feel; see if I want to comeback to the sports or if I will find a different goal.

Irina Mikitenko (ran 2:19:19 as 36 years old; oldest crack 2:20 as well as 2:21; fastest 39 years old)

I am honored to run in Tokyo because of marathon tradition in Japan. I trained six weeks in Spain for this race.

I am always asked about my age. Am I that old? I feel no different now compared to when I was in my twenties.

Azusa Nojiri

After some period of rest, I resumed my training in fall after weather turned more suitable for training. My long term goal is to make the 2016 Olympic marathon team, so I donít want to push myself too hard yet. This is start of really serious training. Because I am still short on the base training, recently my training focuses on fighting against fatigue. It is under such circumstances I am challenging Tokyo Marathon.

(whether she would go with the pace maker or not) Since I want to move up to higher level, I wonít think much about what will happen if I went with the fast pace.

(on leaving the corporate team, question from Naoko Takahashi)

When I joined the Dai-ichi life track team, I was a novice at running (note: she was a national class cross country skier). With the guidance of Sachiko Yamashita, my coach at Daichi-Life track team I learned a lot. Last year making the Olympic team was my goal. When I realized that I did not make the team, I felt this is a turning point of my career. I felt I need a long rest, so I took a break from the sports. Since I felt I can apply what I have learned when I was with the team, so I want to be independent. As the part of corporate track system, everything is taken care of.

However, I feel that by doing everything myself I think I will be a tougher runners that I need to be. The biggest difference between running for corporate track team and running alone is that as a member of the corporate team I only need to think about running which is not true after I left the team.

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