One member of the team comes from the hardest-hit part of Japan.
Not that a team medal at the IAAF World Cross-Country Championships will do anything substantial to assuage the pain suffered by the nation of Japan recently, but every little bit helps. The Japanese girls junior squad did their country a service, taking home the third-place team medal in the junior competition.
The Japanese team finished behind Ethiopia and Kenya.
All six members of the team attend junior high school. One such runner, Natsumi Toshida, goes to school in Sendai–the area hardest hit by the recent earthquake and tsunami. Her school will be closed until May and many of her family and friends are suffering without basic essentials such as clean water and electricity.
“All my friends, relatives and family told me to go to Spain, because I had worked so hard to get there,” she said. “They told me just to go and do my very best. So I’m very happy and honoured to bring back a medal for them. One of the reasons I can be here now is the support from my coach and family, so the fact I can bring them back a medal is a big honor.”