Reiko Tosa won the bronze medal in the women’s marathon, on the very last day of the 2007 World Championships. Here, the writer considers her win and her importance to her country…
Reiko Tosa and Japan’s Lone Medal
It is about 9.30 on Wednesday night, October 10, as I fly above Stephenville in Nova Scotia. Our flight is about 2/3 full and as Adam reads next to me, I continue to write a bit. I love the quiet on planes, and I am not in the mood for watching movies, so I will blog a bit.
It is nearly six weeks after my return from Japan and I have not gotten over Reiko Tosa and her bronze medal in the marathon!
On Japanese television the ten days I was in Japan, the women’s marathon was played up each day. And each day, the top athletes of Japanese athletics fell from
medal contention. When Kuji Murofushi did not medal in the hammer throw, most Japanese, I believe, did not feel that Japan would win a medal in the 2007 World Championships.
There is something about the marathon in Japan. Some of this is from the post World War 2 years, where the struggle was venerated and the size and stature of
Japanese athletes helped with the challenges of the marathon. Japanese marathoners could handle the brutal training, were light and of medium stature-all good attributes for marathoners.
The Japanese men in the marathon came very close, but no cigar. The Japanese 4 x 100 meter relay team set a national record of 38.03, but no final. It was a tough
Reiko Tosa had already fallen off the pace. That she could somehow catch the Chinese runner in third and persevere until the finish was amazing to me! How
did she do it?
I think that there were many reasons. She was pushed on by the support of 450,000 marathon fans in no small measure. Tosa also must have felt the pressure
of the needs for her countrymen and women to gain a medal for her country.
Regardless, the marathon is a strange bedfellow. The conditions in Osaka were ALMOST as warm as the past weekend’s marathon in Chicago. All of the marathoners were having a very difficult time.
But, it was Reiko Tosa who needed the medal the most, who wanted teh medal the most and who was able to channel her efforst into gaining third position and keeping that third posiiton.
To which, all of Japan applauded.
For more on the world champs, please check http://www.runningnetwork.com