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Japan marathon record breaker Suzuki won't receive almost $1M reward due to lack of funds

Kengo Suzuki smiles for photos next to the time board showing his record in the 76th Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, at Ojiyama Stadium in Otsu, on Feb. 28, 2021. (Mainichi/Rei Kubo)

TOKYO -- Even though Kengo Suzuki won the 76th Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon on Feb. 28 in a Japan record of 2 hours, 4 minutes and 56 seconds, he will not be receiving the 100-million-yen (about $938,000) reward that previous record breakers were given due to a lack of funds at Japanese athletics organizations.

    Kengo Suzuki rejoices with a team member after breaking the Japan marathon record in the 76th Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, at Ojiyama Stadium in Otsu, on Feb. 28, 2021. (Mainichi/Rei Kubo)

    Suzuki broke the previous record of 2:05:29 set by Suguru Osako. The latter runner marked a Japan record in the Chicago Marathon in October 2018 and again in the Tokyo Marathon in March 2020, and was given 100 million yen each time by the Japan Association of Athletics Federations (JAAF) and other organizations.

    However, the funds for the program to give 100 million yen to Japan record breakers in the marathon have almost entirely dried up due to a series of record-breaking runs in recent years, and the program ended in March 2020 as initially planned when it was launched in 2015.

    Former record holder Osako, while congratulating Suzuki's accomplishment on Twitter, wrote, it is "unfortunate" that his rival will not be receiving the reward money. He continued, "Together (with Suzuki) I want to think about what we can do for the Japanese athletics world. It's all up to what Kengo wants, but I believe there are many things we can do."

    Following the Feb. 28 race, the JAAF's marathon development strategy project leader and former Olympian Toshihiko Seko joked during a news conference, saying, "I want to give him (Suzuki) 100 million yen for breaking the Japan record but there's no funds. It's unfortunate."

    (Japanese original by Yuta Kobayashi, Sports News Department)

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