Kiryu Yoshihide golden as sport returns to Tokyo's Olympic Stadium
Rio 2016 silver medallist takes centre stage in first sporting event at National Stadium since Games postponement.
Live sport returned to Tokyo's National Stadium - and Kiryu Yoshihide didn't miss a beat.
In the first sporting event at the Olympic Stadium since the Tokyo 2020 Games were postponed in March, Kiryu held off his rivals in a deep field to win the men's 100m in 10.14 seconds at the Seiko Golden Grand Prix on Sunday (23 August).
Kiryu, who holds Japan's second fastest time ever in the men's 100 (9.98), edged Cambridge Aska (10.16) to help baptise the National Stadium with its maiden athletics meet that was held without fans in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
"I don't really have any memories form the old stadium and I'm hoping to create a few at this one", Kiryu said of the venue that opened last November.
"I'm thinking about next year so to be able to run the two races I ran today means a lot. I can build on this", he said, referring to the 23 July-8 August Games in 2021.
"I plan on running faster and faster the rest of the season including rewriting my own mark. I have to leave everything out there for next year, especially since it's going to be held in my hometown.
"Unfortunately there were no fans today but this place is going to be awesome when it's full and I'm looking forward to it". - Kiryu Yoshihide
The Golden Grand Prix is a World Athletics Continental Tour Gold event. It is held annually in May but had been postponed this year due with the outbreak of COVID-19.
While Sunday's meet was entirely Japanese, the past participants have been truly golden, including some of the world's best like Justin Gatlin, Allyson Felix and Sally Pearson to name a few.
While a total of 20 events were on the card, all eyes were on the day's finale, the men's 100, which featured all of Japan's top sprinters not named Abdul Hakim Sani Brown who holds the national record at 9.97.
Kiryu and Koike Yuki, who also has run a 9.98, spearheaded the nine finalists as the sun came out in the afternoon following intense downpour in the morning that looked like was going to ruin the day.
They were joined by Cambridge - who anchored the silver medal-winning 4x100 team at Rio 2016 that Kiryu was a part of - and Tada Shuhei, who was on the 4x100 team that set the Asian record (37.43) at the 2019 world championships in Doha.
Two-time Olympian Yamagata Ryota, fourth on the all-time list with a 10.00 and was expected to at least reach the final, crashed out of the heats (10.43) in his first race in 15 months after suffering a punctured lung and a torn right-ankle ligament last year.
Laying down the gauntlet
Kiryu, who topped qualifying with a 10.09, got a good jump off the block and never looked back against the wind, not allowing the in-form Cambridge to overtake with his trademark closing rush.
It may have been just one meet in what will be a long run-up to Tokyo 2020, but the 24-year-old Kiryu seemed to take away a lot from his pair of runs on the never before used track.
"I managed to run well twice over a couple of hours. Winning the final is something I was hoping to do so I’m pretty happy with the way things turned out", he said.
"At the worlds last season, I struggled in the second half of races and that is something I’ve been working on. I think it showed today".
Kiryu's next competition is expected to be the national championships in October.