Friday, 15 September 2017 23:43

From Ito To Kiryu: The Allure Of The Japanese Sub-10

What does it take for running to make the news these days?

Perhaps a high school team having a better top-seven 5K average than the then-NCAA championship-winning team? Or a man running 11 marathons in a year, four of which being 2:10:00 or faster? Or maybe 103 people running under 50 minutes in a single 10-mile race?

Alas, these tremendous accomplishments have become all but commonplace in the distance-running mecca of Japan. So it may come as a surprise that one of the nation's largest news stories ever comes from something that has already been done 358 times to date by U.S. athletes in college and the pro ranks alike since the 1960s -- a sub-10-second 100m:

Ever since his 10.19-second World Youth Best clocking at the ripe age of 16 just five years ago, Yoshihide Kiryu had been in the outskirts of the national spotlight to carry the sprints program of a nation that, up until this week, had yet to see a single athlete surpass the 10-second barrier in the 100m. But the performance was far from an inevitability.

The talk of a Japanese sub-10 was revived in 2013 when, at a meet in late April, Kiryu posted an incredible Japanese junior record of 10.01 in Hiroshima -- a mark that would have decimated his own World Youth Best had he been born just 17 days later (his December birthday robbed him of a year of extra attempts at the mark due to IAAF rules). In 2015, Kiryu came back to run a wind-aided (+3.3) 9.87 at the Texas Relays in March -- some say it was his best performance to date, worth a sub-10 in perfect conditions. But in the four years since then, despite posting some solid marks, the fact remained that Kiryu had not legally bested that fateful 10.01.

Thanks to Japanese sprint pioneer Koji Ito, the national 100m record had stood at 10.00 for nearly 20 years. It was beginning to seem like a curse at this point -- a cruel joke that even the 1998 Bangkok Asia Championship meet timers were in on, as Ito appeared to finally hit his 9.99 there only to have it adjusted to 10.00, his lifetime best, in the official results:

Would Ito's 10.00 stand forever, frozen in time and symbolic of a nation that had yet to join the ranks of the 27 other countries with sub-10 national marks? In Fukui last Saturday, Yoshihide Kiryu made the comeback of a century for Japan with his win at the National University Championships. The win was thrilling enough, but amidst flashbacks from 1998, the roaring Japanese crowd knew not to be fooled by the 9.99 unofficial mark that showed up on the finish clock. Would this mark again be adjusted to yet another near miss?

So at 2:32 in the below video, when the time was rounded down to 9.98, the crowd went wild a final time knowing the curse had been broken:

The clocking, however unspectacular it may seem from a U.S. perspective, took the nation by storm among sprint and distance fans alike, to the point where even Yuki Kawauchi -- the Japanese marathon star I hinted at above who ran 11 marathons in 2013 against all mainsteam advice -- did a celebratory 100m time trial to compare himself to Kiryu on Tuesday.

"I did two time trials. I even wore spikes. I ran them for real and only did 13.9. To be honest, it was pretty shocking," Kawauchi exclaimed. Though arguably impressive for a marathoner with no sprint trianing, his best on that day was a full four seconds behind Kiryu's mark.

Despite his newfound fame on the national scene, Kiryu will have a long way to go to prove himself on the international stage. But in a post-Bolt world where a 9.92 might just be enough to win a global 100m title, at still just 21 years old Kiryu will be hoping to bring some hardware back for Japan in the years to come. That will begin at the shorter 60m indoor distance in 2018, where Kiryu stands a great chance of improving upon his 2016 Indoor Worlds showing and making it into the final in Birmingham.

Desirèe Henry seeks knee pain solution

The world and Olympic relay medallist could undergo surgery this winter in an attempt to solve knee problems

For Desirèe Henry, her recent victory at the Great North CityGames was even more special as it came at the end of what has proven to be a challenging season for the sprinter.

The 22-year-old formed part of GB’s world silver medal-winning 4x100m team at the IAAF World Championships in London, where she also reached the semi-finals of the 100m, and her 11.09 from April has remained the UK lead during the summer. But Henry has been managing knee pain throughout and is now considering her options in order to get the problem sorted long-term.

“This year was extremely hard in terms of managing my pain,” explains the Rana Reider-coached athlete.

“I think in a few weeks I’ll have to talk to my coach and the head of British Athletics and surgery may be one of the options, because this year has been extremely hard.

“I have two cysts behind my knees, they are small little nodules,” she adds. “They hurt every time I straighten or push off and that is pretty much crucial in the first 10 to 15 metres of a sprint! You may have noticed this year I haven’t been able to get out as hard.

“Given that it was the World Championships this year, I didn’t want to miss it but I didn’t want to be selfish – I knew it was an injury that I could push through if I needed to and I was able to do that. We got a silver medal so I know I didn’t compromise the team at that point. So now it’s about focusing on myself and getting myself fit and strong and healthy for years to come.”

Speaking after her 100m win on the Gateshead Quayside, where she clocked 11.61 (-1.4), Henry added: “For me to come here today and have some fun, it’s just what I needed going into what could be a big surgery.”

NCAA XC Women’s Preview (Individuals)

Given the dicey nature of cross country prognostication before most of the serious contenders have even raced, it would be silly not to go with a proven winner as our favorite. That's precisely what Karissa Schweizer is, after winning what some people call an NCAA triple crown (XC, Indoors & Outdoors) and then finishing 4th—just 3 seconds away—from a World Championships berth.

The impressive quality of the likely field will guarantee that if Schweizer manages to pull off the repeat, it won't come easy. She will have to get past a host of NCAA titlists in various disciplines, some who boast blistering kicks (Dani Jones comes to mind) and others who are strong and unafraid of leading, such as Anna Rohrer and Allie Ostrander.

The list of names not mentioned in the top 15 features a number of runners with better resumes than many past winners of the coveted title. Stanford brings us the best examples, with a phalanx of national class talent, any one (or more) capable of breaking into the top 10.

So consider this early tabulation a rough sketch of a road map—certainly not a GPS guide to the direction the season will take. (A team preview will follow soon)

1. Karissa Schweizer (Missouri): Defending champion is a senior now. She shocked many with her winning kick last fall but Indoor & Outdoor NCAA titles in the 5000 confirmed her penchant for winning.

2. Allie Ostrander (Boise State): The NCAA steeple champ in 9:41.31 also managed 4th in the 5000 (15:46.18) on the same day. She was sidelined by injury last year, but with a solid summer of training should be ready to challenge for the front.

3. Anna Rohrer (Notre Dame): Third last year after leading for much of the final kilometer, the junior has had a year to plan for a different outcome in Louisville. Produced a 31:58.99 on the track early last spring, but only managed 16th in the NCAA 10K.

4. Dani Jones (Colorado): Only 22nd last year, Jones caught fire indoors, using a stinging kick to win the 3000 and anchor the victorious DMR. Now a junior, she improved her 1500 best to 4:08.42 following a 4th-place 1500 at the NCAAs.

5. Charlotte Taylor (San Francisco): NCAA 10,000 champ in 32:38.57 finished 10th last year. May start season late, as she was still competing in August in the World Champs 10,000.

6. Katie Rainsberger (Oregon): 4th last year as a frosh. Had a solid track season, finishing 3rd at NCAA Indoors in the 3000 and 4th in the Outdoor 1500.

7. Sharon Lokedi (Kansas): The junior from Kenya placed 5th last year. In the spring she took 3rd in the NCAA 10,000 in a PR 32:46.10.

8. Brenna Peloquin (Boise): Junior redshirted last season in outdoor track after placing 6th in Terre Haute. All indications are she's ready to race this fall.

9. Elinor Purrier (New Hampshire): Last year's 7th-placer is now a senior. After mile (4:29.44i) and steeple (9:43.65) PR's on the track, she managed 4th in the NCAA steeple.

10. Alice Wright (New Mexico): Senior should be a factor, with plenty of NCAA experience, finishing 20th-5th-19th over the last three years. On the track she was runner-up in the NCAA 10,000 and ran a PR of 32:29.28 at Stanford.

11. Alyssa Snyder (Utah State): The 4th placer in the outdoor 10K, newly transferred from Montana State, might be ready to make an impact in cross country. She won the Sagebrush Invitational.

12. Tessa Barrett (PennSt): Redshirt junior ran 15:28.99 last winter. The past Foot Locker champ will want to make up for her DNF last year.

13. Nikki Hiltz (Arkansas): The Oregon transfer just missed winning the NCAA 1500 with her runner-up finish by 0.02. She later placed 6th at USATF in a PR 4:20.28. Can she convert that speed to the 6K?

14. Amy-Eloise Neale (Washington): With fresh track PR's of 4:11.00 and 15:39.30, last year's 8th-placer is starting the season strong.

15. Courtney Smith (Stanford): Because of injury, the transfer senior (from Harvard) hasn't raced since last year's 35th at nationals. Has a 10K PR of 32:08.32, so if healthy, could be very dangerous.

Others to watch: Isobel Batt-Doyle (Wa), Peyton Bilo (Cal Poly), Alli Cash (Or), Elise Cranny (Stan), Avery Evenson (Mi), Vanessa Fraser (Stan), Brianna Ilarda (Prov), Weini Kelati (NM), Rachel Koon (NCSt), Nevada Mareno (Stan), Jordann McDermitt (EnMi), Fiona O'Keeffe (Stan), Judy Pendergast (Or), Jamie Phelan (Mi), Katherine Receveur (In), Gina Sereno (Mi), Taylor Werner (Ar).

TCU Releases Indoor & Outdoor Schedules

Track and field head coach Darryl Anderson announced the teams’ 2017-2018 schedules. The Horned Frogs will travel to meets hosted by the Big 12, SEC and Pac-12 schools and will compete against programs from all Power Five Conferences.

“We were looking at the level of competition,” Anderson said. “We want to see every Power Five Conference before the postseason and run against the best of the best.”

The men’s team will be returning most of last season’s athletes, and the women’s team will be featuring several newcomers.

“Our men’s team is almost 99% intact from last year with some additions,” Anderson said. “On the women’s team, we’ve got some younger girls coming with some good credentials, and we want to get them started immediately.”

TCU will open the indoor season Dec. 9 at the Texas A&M Invitational, where they will return four weeks later to run again. TCU will also compete in Texas Tech’s new facility and return to New Mexico, where they appeared last year.

Indoor postseason begins in Iowa, Feb. 23 at the Big 12 Indoor Track & Field Championships. Two weeks later, March 9-10 qualifying Frogs will travel to College Station for the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championship where they will conclude the indoor season.

Following the conclusion of the indoor season, March 16-17 the Horned Frogs will host the TCU Invitational to kick off their outdoor season. Throughout the outdoor season, TCU will travel to several Power Five schools to compete at meets such as the Texas Relays, Arizona State’s Sun Angel Classic, Florida’s Tom Jones Memorial and the Arkansas Invitational.

To kick off the outdoor postseason, TCU will compete at the Big 12 Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Waco, TX May 11-13. Two weeks later, the Horned Frogs will travel to Sacramento, California, for the NCAA Outdoor Regionals May 24-26. To conclude the season, qualifying individuals will travel to Eugene, Oregon, to compete at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships June 6-9. TCU sent four individual athletes and three relays to the national championships last season.

The Best Non-Qualifying Marks Ever

Best Men’s Non-Qualifying Marks

100 10.00 Peimeng Zhang (China) WC 13
    Femi Ogunode (Qatar) WC 15
  9.94w Charles Silmon (US) USATF 15
200 20.13 Justin Gatlin (US) OG 16
400 44.51 Jerome Davis (US) WC 99
800 1:44.70 Adam Kszczot (Poland) OG 16
1500 3:34.84 Abdelkader Chékhémani (France) OG 96
St 8:17.75 Luís Miguel Martín (Spain) WC 99
5000 13:22.87 Mohammed Mourhit (Belgium) WC 05
10000 28:12.79 Steve Binns (Great Britain) WC 83
110H 13.28 Balázs Baji (Hungary) Paris 17
400H 48.23 Omar Cisneros (Cuba) OG 12
4x1 38.26 Germany OG 16
4x4 2:59.95 Botswana WC 15













Field Events
HJ 2.29 | 7-6 JaCorian Duffield (US) WC 15
    Majed El Dein Ghazal (Syria) WC 15
    Andrii Protsenko (Ukraine) WC 15
    Fernando Ferreira (Brazil) WC 17
    Protsenko WC 17
    Ricky Robertson (US) WC 17
    Talles Frederico Silva (Brazil) WC 17
    Ginmarco Tamberi (Italy) WC 17
PV 5.65 | 18-6½ 4 athletes WC 93
    Rens Blom (Holland) OG 00
    Stepan Janácek (Czech Republic) OG 00
    Romain Mesnil (France) OG 04
    Matti Mononen (Finland) OG 04
    Spas Bukhalov (Bulgaria) WC 07
    Feiliang Liu (China) WC 07
    8 athletes WC 15
LJ 8.05 | 26-5 Petar Dachev (Bulgaria) OG 04
TJ 17.09 | 56-1 Alexis Copello (Cuba) OG 08
SP 20.54 | 67-4¾ Jakub Szyszkowski (Poland) WC 17
DT 63.48 | 208-3 Apostolos Parellis (Cyprus) OG 12
HT 76.66 | 251-6 David Chaussinand (France) WC 01
JT 82.12 | 269-5 Nick Nieland (Great Britain) OG 00