By David Monti with Ken Nakamura
Toshinari Takaoka, the Asian record holder for the marathon and Japan's top male distance runner for the last decade, has decided to retire after Sunday's Tokyo Marathon. Takaoka is 38 years-old and spent his career running for the Kanebo corporate team.
"I could no longer do the training or run the marathon that I envision as ideal," explained Takaoka. "During my over-distance training on February 4, I injuired my left calf. Since I felt that I could no longer able to do the ideal marathon training, I decided to make the Tokyo Marathon the last marathon of my career."
In addition to his excellent 2:06:16 marathon personal best, Takaoka also holds the Japanese records for 3000m (7:41.87) and 10,000m (27:35.09). He twice won the Japanese All Corporate Half-Marathon Championships title in 1997 and 2003, but his biggest victory was at the Tokyo Marathon in 2005 (he was also second in 2006). He competed in both the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games on the track, and finished seventh in the 10,000m in 2000. His best performance in a championship marathon was fourth place in the 2005 IAAF World Championships. He never ran an Olympic Marathon, although he had hoped to in 2012.
"I set my goal with the four-year cycle," Takaoka continued. "Realistically speaking, I cannot stay focused for the 2012 London Olympics, and that is the major reason triggering my decision."
Beginning on April 1, Takaoka will become a coach at Kanebo.