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Japanese athletes dominate the Asian Championships

Hosoda and Niwata lead the way.

Japan continues to prove its strength in Asia taking almost every podium place at the 2011 Yilan ASTC Triathlon Asian Championships. Yuichi Hosoda retains his position as Asian champion and Kiyomi Niwata finally claims her first Asian Championship title. Korea’s Min Ho Heo snatches one of the only medals away from Japan with bronze in the elite men’s race.

Elite Men’s Review
After a hectic month of competition Hosoda’s intelligent racing secured him gold in the damp but mild conditions in Yilan, Chinese Taipei.

Hosoda allowed the race to unfold in front of him, biding his time. It was teammate Hirokatsu Tayama who surged on the second lap of the swim to enter T1 first, an entire 10 seconds ahead of his nearest threat Ju Seok Kim (KOR).

A lead pack of seven emerged soon after the first lap on the bike containing four Japanese and three Korean athletes. The group stayed together until the final lap where Hiroki Sugimoto began to drop off the pace. The remaining six were then more than a minute out in front coming off the bike.

Hosoda made his move, powering out of T2 at the head of the group with Ju Seok Kim, Tayama, Heo and Ryosuke Yamamoto in hot pursuit. Gaps began to form immediately and on each lap of the Mehua Lake, Hosoda increased his lead over second place Yamamoto.

“I’m very happy, especially after Yokohama. I really wanted it. I felt very tired during the race. I felt heavy in the swim and struggled on the bike. My style is always to go hard for the first one or two kilometres, but today I felt so tired so I went a little bit slow,” said Hosoda. “When I was alone in the front in the run I thought, ok, I will just keep doing this and I started to pull away. First ten seconds then 20 seconds and I thought I am going to win.”

The one, two finish for Hosoda and Yamamoto is identical to the Guangzhou Asian Games result which doubled as the Asian Championships last year.

“Hosoda is a young guy and every year he is getting stronger. I am old so every year it gets a little bit harder. We have had a really tight schedule recently, but I’m really happy about the race. I just kept telling myself push, push, push,” said Yamamoto.

A battle for third was underway between Tayama and Heo as the pair ran together for the first two laps. Determined for a podium position, Heo broke away on the third lap and managed to hold off Tayama with time to spare for the bronze.

“It was a very hard race. I just had two weeks hard training in Lausanne where I just kept thinking podium, podium. I had a really good swim where I managed to drop a lot of the strong guys behind me,” said Heo.

Elite Women’s Review
In the elite women’s race that followed, Akane Tsuchihashi and Mariko Adachi exited the swim together with Korea’s Eun Kyung Sung and A Reum Jo along with Tomoko Sakimoto next into T1. A sluggish swim by Ai Ueda, safe in the knowledge of her secured Olympic spot, put Ueda out of contention for the title.

The nine strong leading bike pack made up of Japanese and Korean athletes including Yun-Jung Jang, had Niwata at the helm for the last two laps. Undeterred by her work on the bike, Niwata sped out ahead on the run alongside Sakimoto. The pair kept their lead all the way to the finish line, but it was an astonishing burst of speed by Niwata on the third lap that finally left Sakimoto more than a minute behind for silver.

“Of course I’m happy. I’m forty years old! All the Japanese girls came straight from Yokohama with only three days in between races so it was very hard. I’m feeling much better than I did in Beijing. It’s my first time in Chinese Taipei and I love it, so I had a good feeling coming into today and thought it would be a good day for me today and I won,” said Niwata.

Back in third place Adachi was steadily running over ten seconds in front of Tsuchihashi and Jang for the first two laps. On the third lap Tsuchihashi overtook Adachi and Jang had fallen out of contention. Adachi was not about to let it slip and raced to pass Tsuchihashi around the turns to take the bronze.

“I dropped out of the race in Yokohama, so I had to have a good race here. The bike was so hard, it was really tough on my legs, but I kept my concentration on the finishing line. I think I got to the third position at last because my feeling was so strong,” said Adachi.

Junior and Under23
The junior and Under23 races took place in the morning with the juniors up first on the sprint distance course.Takanori Sugihara won the junior men’s race, Shiruba Taniguchi with silver and Ryosuke Maeda in third for bronze. It was all Japan again in the junior women, as Yuka Sato, the Youth Olympic Games gold medallist, was crowned 2011 junior Asian champion, Fumika Matsumoto took silver and Karin Chibana the bronze.

Yuko Takahashi took gold in the U23 women’s category and it was Korean Dan Bi Hong that took one of the only two non-Japanese medals of the day for silver. Aoi Kuramoto claimed bronze.

The Under23 men was another all-Japanese podium with Kohei Tsubaki at the top, Jumpei Furuya with silver and bronze went to Syogo Ishitsuka.

Competition continues on Saturday 24th September with the mixed team relay at 11:00. The relatively new event is fast paced and exciting to spectators and athletes alike.