Hitomi Niiya on the way to the Japanese national 10,000m record in Osaka (© Getty Images)
Hitomi Niiya and Akira Aizawa smashed the Japanese national 10,000m records at the National distance running championships in Osaka on Friday (4).
Niiya, a finalist over the distance at last year's World Championships, lapped almost the entire field en route to a 30:20.44 run, knocking more than 28 seconds from the previous record of 30:48.89 set by Yoko Shibui in 2002.
"Although I'm usually not satisfied after a race, I'm honestly happy today," said Niiya, whose previous best of 30:56.70 was set at the 2013 World Championships where she finished fifth.
Niiya, 32, has illustrated strong form from the start of the year. She won the Houston Half Marathon in January in 1:06:36, another national record. Her performance in Osaka was the second fastest of 2020.
Mao Ichiyama was a distant second in 31:11.56 with Sayaka Sato third in 31:30.19, personal bests for both.
The men's race was much more competitive but nonetheless a clear victory for Aizawa, whose 27:18.75 lopped nearly 11 seconds from the previous record of 27:29.69 set by Kota Murayama in 2015.
"My goal was to break the Japanese record and the Olympic standard, but I was able to run better than I expected," said Aizawa, who set his previous career best of 27:55.76 in Miyazaki on 17 October.
Behind him, Tatsuhiko Ito and Kazuki Tamura also dipped under the previous record, clocking 27:25.73 and 27:28.92, respectively.
The day's races marked the second phase of the postponed national athletics championships. The first, which included the sprints, middle distance events, jumps and throws, was held in Niigata in October. Anyone winning their event within the Olympic qualifying standard earned a guaranteed spot on the team for next summer's Olympic Games.
The programme also included 5000m and 3000m steeplechase contests.
Yuto Bando won the men's 5000m in 13:18.49, more than six seconds clear of Hiroki Matsueda (13:24.78). Nozomi Tanaka, the national record holder at 1500m and 3000m, won the women's title in 15:05.65 ahead of Ririka Hironaka (15:07.11).
The steeplechase titles went to Kosei Yamaguchi (8:24.19) and Yukari Ishizawa (9:48.76).
Bob Ramsak for World Athletics