Japan Distance Runner Nozomi Tanaka Shatters National 5,000 Women’s Mark by 15 Seconds at Worlds in Budapest

Kunihiko Miura / The Yomiuri Shimbun
Nozomi Tanaka keeps pace with Olympic champion Sifan Hassan during their semifinal heat in the women’s 5,000 meters on Wednesday night in Budapest.

BUDAPEST — Nozomi Tanaka shattered the Japan record by nearly 15 seconds in the women’s 5,000 meters on Wednesday night to advance to the final for the third straight time at the World Athletics Championships.

Tanaka, bouncing back from her failure to make the final in the 1,500 in Budapest, clocked 14 minutes 37.98 seconds to top the previous national record of 14:52.84 set by Ririka Hironaka at the Tokyo Olympics in August 2021. Her previous personal best was 14:58.60 set in September 2022 in Gifu.

Tanaka placed sixth in her semifinal heat to secure a place in Saturday’s final. The top eight finishers in each of the semifinals qualified for the final.

“I was able to show what is a perfect race for me at this moment,” said Tanaka, whose time also topped the qualifying standard for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

From the start on a 31 C night, Tanaka bravely kept pace with the favorites, including Olympic champion Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands and world record-holder Faith Kipyegon of Kenya, using the experience of training in Kenya in preparation for the meet.

“My fear of facing the African athletes has faded,” said Tanaka, who late in the race was right on the heels of Hassan and four Africans, including Kipyegon, and kept that position through the finish.

Having come up short in the 1,500, Tanaka said about her performance in the 5,000: “I’m happier about making the final [than breaking the record]. If I didn’t finish in a qualifying position, there would be no joy even with the record, so I fought to stick with the leaders.”

Hironaka, who finished seventh in the 10,000 on the opening day of the competition, failed to advance in the 5,000 after finishing 12th in her heat in 15:11.16.