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Sprinter Sani Brown outlcasses field in 100-meter final for first national title

Kyodo

Abdul Hakim Sani Brown won the men’s 100-meter final in 10.05 seconds at the National Athletics Championships on Saturday, tying the meet record and punching his ticket to this summer’s IAAF World Championships in London.

Despite rain-slick conditions at Yanmar Stadium, the 18-year-old convincingly came out ahead in a field that included three Olympic medalists for his first national title. He took 0.01 off his personal best, which he recorded twice on Friday in the heats and semifinals.

Shuhei Tada finished second in 10.16 seconds and defending champion Asuka Cambridge placed third (10.18) despite a right-hamstring injury.

The laid-back Sani Brown was a cool customer amid expectations of Japan’s first sub 10-second 100 that were all but dashed 10 minutes before the start, when the rain came pouring down.

“This is just one stop,” Sani Brown said. “I want to put in the work to be able to do well at the world championships. I almost ran three personal bests here so it hasn’t been bad. I’m in a good rhythm going into the worlds.”

He added: “I’m not training just to win at this meet. I’ve got other big competitions I want to do well at. I was never in any hurry for this because I’m trying to peak for August.”

Three-and-a-half hours before the 100m final, Sani Brown breezed through the 200 heats.

“I had the 200 heats today so I wasn’t sure how I would feel,” Sani Brown said. “But based on the result of the 100, I guess it was good I ran the 200 beforehand.

“I was really excited before the race because of the field we had. I’m not really the type who gets nervous. At about 70 meters, I knew I was in the lead.”

Cambridge was limping after the race with his right thigh heavily iced, and was glad he barely qualified.

“I felt some pain after yesterday’s semifinal,” Cambridge said. “I thought I’d be able to run through it, but it bothered me. I still think I could have won it so it’s frustrating. At least I made the team, though.”

Cambridge’s teammates from the Rio Olympic silver medal-winning 4×100 relay team, Yoshihide Kiryu (10.26) and Ryota Yamagata (10.39), finished fourth and sixth, respectively, and their place on the team for the Aug. 4-13 world championships now looks uncertain.

“Obviously this stings, but not talking to you guys doesn’t change things,” said Kiryu, who held the fastest time (10.01) in the field. “Athletics is all about trying to finish as high as you can. The reality is what it is.”

Earlier, Shota Iizuka breezed into the men’s 200m final with the fastest time of 20.40 seconds from the heats.

Iizuka, the defending champion whose time met the qualifying standard for the world championships, reached Sunday’s final over Sani Brown.

Iizuka won the 200 last year in 20.11, second only to Shingo Suetsugu’s national record of 20.03.

In three women’s finals, Yuki Ebihara won the javelin throw (60.64 meters), Kaede Miyasaka the triple jump (13.48 meters) and Nanaka Kori the shot put with a toss of 15.82 meters.