Sakimoto, Yamamoto Claim First Titles at Japan National Triathlon Championships
The 16th Japan National Triathlon Championships were held Sunday in Tokyo Bay’s Odaiba, the famed triathlon venue in Japan’s triathlon scene, gathering thousand of crowds along the course set in the heart of the city. An iconic backdrop of the well-known Rainbow Bridge, major commercial complexes, movie theatres and even a key broadcast station based in Odaiba, attracts Tokyoites and tourists throughout the year. A total of 49 women and 58 men lined up at the starting grids to decide this year’s national titles.
The women’s contest was won by Tomoko Sakimoto, who was 2nd in the 2010 Mooloolaba ITU Triathlon World Cup and finished in 25th in the final rankings of this year’s Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series. “This is my sixth year since I took up triathlon, and I finally won at the national championships. I am really happy about it,” said Sakimoto. “My biggest objective, London 2012, is getting closer day by day. Every single day is precious for me. I will do my best towards the Games.”
Thirteen of Japan’s top athletes came together on the bike, building a significant advantage of more than three minutes as they entered the second transition. Sakimoto ran the final 10k in 35:14, the best split among the strong contenders, which was fast enough to pull away from a chase group which included Ai Ueda, who recently won the Huatulco ITU Triathlon World Cup, and Mariko Adachi, who was ranked in 9th in the World Championship Series, and Yuka Sato, Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Champion.
Meanwhile, the first 1.5km swim decided the outcome of the men’s race. A lead group of four - Ryosuke Yamamoto, Hirokatsu Tayama, Itsuki Endo and Hiroki Sugimoto - worked hard on the bike and built an advantage of 25 seconds at the bike finish, while a favourite Yuichi Hosoda lost nearly 50 seconds on the swim and could not catch the first pack during bike. Yamamoto managed the 10k run in 32:00 and dominated the field with Tayama finishing behind him by 22 seconds. Hosoda finished in third.
“As I’ve never got a national title, this achievement has been my longest ambition. With recent intense training, I believed in myself to win the race today,” said Yamamoto. “The Asian Games next month is the biggest one this year. Gold medal in the Asian Games would become a stepping stone to success in the next season and London 2012. I will do my best there.”
The Japanese National team is currently boarding a three-day intensive training camp together at the National Training Centre. The next milestone for the team is the Asian Games in November, which will take place in Guangzhou, China.
“Training itself was right on the track, and I am confident in what I have been doing,” said Adachi. “I want to bring a gold medal back to my home from the Asian Games.”
The women’s triathlon is set to be held on 13th November, while the men’s contest is to be held on 14th. For more information about the 16th Asian Games, go to the official website at www.gz2010.cn/en/
Photo Courtesy of Satoshi Takasaki / JTU