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Fujimitsu outsprints field for 200-meter triumph

Golden Grand Prix Kawasaki meet provides solid preparation for athletes making transition to outdoor season

by Jason Coskrey and Kaz Nagatsuka

Staff Writers

One week after helping the Japan men’s 4×100 meter relay team punch its ticket to the 2016 Rio Olympics with a third-place finish in Nassau May 3, sprinter Kenji Fujimitsu shouldered the load all by himself and raced to a little more success on Sunday.

Fujimitsu outran Kenya’s Carvin Nkanata and China’s Xie Zhenye to win the men’s 200-meter race at the Golden Grand Prix Kawasaki meet on a sunny afternoon at Todoroki Stadium.

Fujimitsu crossed the finish line in 20.33 seconds. Nkanata was second with a time of 20.50 and Xie finished third in 20.61.

“I wasn’t in good condition but still came up with a good outcome,” Fujimitsu said. “I don’t know, I guess I had some luck also. There’s no doubt I have lacked something in my training. I will have to re-evaluate my training. I have about a month and a half until the national championships, so I want to fix my problems before then.”

Despite the win, Fujimitsu failed hit the 20.28 mark the Japan Association of Athletics Federations has set as the qualifying standard for August’s world championships in Beijing.

“I wanted to run under it,” Fujimitsu said. “But the result gave me the confidence that I still have room to improve.”

London Olympic champion Sally Pearson beat the field in the women’s 100-meter hurdles in a time of 12.66 seconds. She said she was pleased to see her training process come to fruition on the track.

“My biggest asset in my race is my start and my drive phase going into the first hurdle,” Pearson said. “I kind of lost that for two years, like last year and the year before, with injuries, and I’ve never really had the time to work on my starts. This season, we’ve just really had a focus on that and making sure I’m coming out of the blocks really strong.”

Kei Takase had a strong showing in the men’s 100 meters with sprint star Yoshihide Kiryu sitting out the meet.

“I’ve had good practices and I felt good in the warmup today too, so I felt good before the race,” Takase said.

Takase posted a personal-best 10.09 seconds, finishing second to Cote d’Ivorie’s Hua Wilfried Koffi, who had the same time, in a photo finish. China’s Su Bingtian (10.10) was third.

Koffi wasn’t sure if he’d won immediately after crossing the finish line.

“Oh, no, because the guy was so close to me,” he said. “I was just looking at the line. The Japanese runner did a great job.”

Takese’s main race is the 200, but he won’t rule out a chance at running both in the world championships.

“I want to earn a spot on the national team in the 100, but my main thing is the 200 and I want to compete in that more,” said Takese, who only ran the 100 on Sunday.

Chisato Fukushima had a fourth-place finish in the women’s 200 with a time of 23.11 seconds. Simone Facey of Jamaica won the race in 22.65. Facey had finished third in the women’s 100 earlier in the day.

“The 100 kind of warmed me up for the 200,” Facey said. “I’m happy that I was able to run the 100 because it kind of got me fired up for the 200.”

American Tianna Bartoletta was also pulling double duty and left with wins in the women’s long jump and 100 meters. She said she’d been expecting to have a good day after waking up to sunny skies in Kanagawa Prefecture.

She competed in the long jump first, winning with a distance of 6.69 meters. It was short of her personal best of 7.02, but being it was her first outdoor meet of the season, she said she’d take it.

“I did not expect to jump that (7.02) today, because this is the first competition of the outdoor season and I did not train for the long jump during indoor season at all,” she said. “So I did not expect to come out and jump seven meters on the first try.”

Her jump was good enough to edge training partner, Russian Darya Klishina, who finished second at 6.68. Klishina, like Bartoletta, wasn’t thrilled with the result, but satisfied with her first showing of the season.

“I think it was a great long jump session,” Klishina said. “It was only six people, and very small breaks between attempts, and after the third attempt I was tired.

“Next competition is in Doha, in five days. I think I will feel better there, because I know what I need to do now.”

Bartoletta returned to the track a short time later to win the 100 in 11.26 seconds.

“Today was tough, because there were only six jumpers, usually, there’s 12 so you get all that rest between jumpers. If one or two jumpers pass, you’re basically jumping one time and then somebody and then you again. So it was hard to recover. So I was more tired than usual after the long jump.”

Bartoletta is used to doing both events at the same meet saying that she’ll pull the double a few more times this year.

“What I like about doing both at the same meet is it helps me understand where I am fitness-wise,” Bartoletta said. “Because if it’s not long jump-100, it’s semifinal-final. So either way, I have to be ready to go more than once.”

Canada’s Elizabeth Gleadle won the women’s javelin competition with a throw of 64.83 meters. Japan’s Yuki Ebihara was fourth with a distance 63.80 that broke her own national record.

“I wanted to do it here today,” Ebihara said of breaking the national record.

Making things more special was that she did on Mother’s Day with her mother watching from the stands.

“My parents are here today, and when I made my fifth throw I saw my mother pumping her fists,” Ebihara said. “I guess it was a good present for her.”

Japan’s Seito Yamamoto won the men’s pole vault after clearing 5.50 meters.

Australian Lauren Wells was the only non-Japanese in the field for the women’s 400 meters. She won in 56.19 seconds, beating out Manami Kira (57.73) and Miyabi Tago (58.66).

Regina George of Nigeria won the women’s 400 meters in 51.30 seconds, while Estonian Rasmus Magi won the men’s race in 49.48.

Ukraine’s Anna Mishchenko set a meet record in the women’s 1,500 meters, winning in 4 minutes, 2.47 seconds, and her countryman Bohdan Bondarenko was victorious in the high jump at 2.37 meters.

Bernard Nganga led a Kenyan sweep in the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase, finishing in 8 minutes, 23.77 seconds to beat Clement Kimutai Kemboi (8:25.32) and Lawrence Kemboi Kipsang (8:25.64).

In the men’s 800 meters, Rafith Rodriguez of Colombia, won in 1 minute, 45.84 seconds.

Cuban Alexis Copello was victorious in the triple jump (17.24 meters).

Hungry’s Anita Marton won the women’s shot put with a distance of 18.94 meters.

Americans swept the Paralympic men’s 100-meter race, with Jarryd Wallace (11.15) finishing ahead of Paul Peterson III (11.50) and Josh Kennison (11.63) to claim victory.