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Sani Brown advances to 100-meter final with fastest time at nationals

Kyodo

Abdul Hakim Sani Brown twice clocked 10.06 seconds at the National Athletics Championships Friday to reach the men’s 100-meter final with the fastest time.

On the first day of the meet which doubles as a qualifier for the world championships in August in London, the 18-year-old Sani Brown reproduced his time from the heats in the evening semifinals to book one of eight lanes in Saturday’s final at Yanmar Stadium.

Sani Brown’s time in the 100 met the world championships qualifying standard of 10.12. He took 0.12 off his previous best, holding off another rising star in Shuhei Tada (10.10) and Rio Olympic 4×100 silver medalist Ryota Yamagata (10.31) in the second semifinal.

The race’s defending champion, Asuka Cambridge, came from behind to win the first semi in 10.10 over Yoshihide Kiryu (10.14) to secure his passage to the final, where the contestants will be trying to become the first Japanese to break the 10-second barrier. The top three finalists qualify for the Aug. 4-13 worlds in London.

Sani Brown, who is also entered in the 200 heats Saturday, was surprised with Friday’s results.

“I’m a bit shocked myself,” the University of Florida-bound teenager said.

“In the prelims, I crouched too low at the start and in the semifinal, it took a while for the gun to go off after I was set, so I wasn’t completely happy with the performance. We’ll see how my body responds tomorrow after running the 200.”

Cambridge, unlike his Rio teammate Yamagata who was fourth in the semifinal to barely advance, appeared loose and confident for what has shaped up to be arguably the most competitive 100 final in the meet’s history.

“I feel pretty good and my times have been decent. I’ve been shaping up well for the nationals and I can’t wait for the race tomorrow,” Cambridge said. “Nine seconds would be nice, but the most important thing is to make the team for the worlds. We’ve got a really strong field.”

In the men’s 10,000, Suguru Osako, third at this year’s Boston Marathon, defended his title with a time of 28 minutes, 35.47 seconds and will look to cap the 5,000-10,000 double on Sunday for the second successive championships.

Pole vaulter Seito Yamamoto cleared 5.60 meters to win the event and make the worlds team. Ryota Kashimura won the hammer throw with an effort of 71.36 meters.

Mizuki Matsuda was victorious in the women’s 10,000 in 31:39.41 to punch her first ticket to the worlds, while Hitomi Katsuyama won the hammer throw with a toss of 63.32 meters.

Haruka Nakano capturing the women’s high jump with a leap of 1.80. Ayaka Kora finished first in the long jump (6.14).