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Abdul Hakim Sani Brown endures long meet to win 200-meter dash

by Kaz Nagatsuka

Staff Writer

The long four-day schedule made it tough even for a phenom like Abdul Hakim Sani Brown.

The 20-year-old successfully overcame the grind to earn his second title at the 103rd Japan National Championships with a victory in the men’s 200-meter dash on Sunday evening.

The annual National Championships had previously been a three-day event, but was extended to four days this year.

Competing in the pouring rain and a 1.3-meter-per-second headwind, Sani Brown took off strongly to take a lead during the bend and wound up preserving the gap against the eventual runner-up Yuki Koike and the other sprinters for the rest of the way with a time of 20.35 seconds.

Koike ran the distance in 20.48 while ex-national 100 record holder Yoshihide Kiryu was third with 20.54.

“I simply didn’t have enough gas,” Sani Brown said with a bitter smile after the race at Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium. “I was thinking I was tired — I thought so while running.”

It was the second time Sani Brown won in both disciplines at nationals since 2017. Because he had already met the qualification standards, the victories booked his spots on the national team for this fall’s IAAF World Championships. The National Championships served as part of the trials for the global event.

“I just did what I was expected to do. I don’t feel particularly different,” said the University of Florida sophomore, who has the country’s second-best 200 record (20.08) of all time, of his two-for-two outcome.

Sani Brown, a Fukuoka Prefecture native who notched the Japanese 100 record (9.97) at the NCAA championships earlier this month, had displayed a convincing win in Friday’s 100 with a 10.02 mark.

Koike’s smile was also bitter, but for a different reason than that of the winner.

“It’s like, ‘Man, I lost,’ ” the reigning Asian Games 200 gold medalist said. “I allowed (Sani Brown) to take the lead and tried to catch up with him in the latter half. But he had more energy to spare after all.”

Koike finished second for the second year in a row.

Kiryu, who won silver in the 100, admitted his gap with Sani Brown.

“I feel frustrated with the third place, but at the same time it was a good thing I could run 200 twice (in the heat and final),” said Kiryu, who added that he would focus on the 100 to collect points in order to rise in the world rankings and earn a berth for the World Championships.

In the women’s 200 final, Mei Kodama of Fukuoka University racked up her first national title with a personal best of 23.80.

In the men’s 110 hurdles, two-time champ Shunya Takayama and Shunsuke Izumiya dashed past the finish line almost simultaneously, with Takayama ruled the winner.

The pair officially clocked 13.36, tying the national record previously held by Takayama and another runner.

Elsewhere, Ran Urabe was awarded her second gold medal of the tourney after winning the women’s 800. She had triumphed in the 1,500 on Friday.