WAJIMA, ISHIKAWA PREF. – World bronze medalist Takayuki Tanii won the 50-km walk on Sunday at the national championships, the final qualifier for this summer’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
Tanii, who has already qualified for Rio, clocked 3 hours, 44 minutes, 12 seconds in Wajima, Ishikawa Prefecture for his first title in two years and third overall.
Hirooki Arai, who was fourth at the worlds, placed second in 3:44:47 to virtually assure himself a first trip to the Olympics.
Tanii led the race from start to finish. He slowed in the latter half amid strong winds and was unable to achieve his aim of setting a new national record, but was still able to take some positives from the race.
“There’s a more of a feeling of frustration (than happiness),” Tanii said. “But considering the weather, I feel I can go a little better (in good weather conditions). I think I’m in good form.”
Japanese record holder Yuki Yamazaki, who was aiming for a fourth consecutive Olympic appearance, withdrew midway through the race. Takuya Yoshida was disqualified.
Tanii and Koichiro Morioka have taken two of the maximum three available Japanese team berths for Rio. The team will be officially announced on Monday.