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Athletics | International

Yoshihide Kiryu © Gallo Images

Japan teen sprinter targets 9.96s



Japanese teen sprint sensation Yoshihide Kiryu, the joint junior 100m world record holder, has revealed his target time for the season is 9.96 seconds after writing the figure on a school blackboard.

The 17-year-old said he wrote goal on the athletics facility board at his high school after clocking the record equalling time of 10.01 seconds in a domestic race last Monday.

"I've written it off the top of my head," Kiryu told reporters after finishing third in at the Seiko Golden Grand Prix, the third leg of the 15-round IAAF World Challenge series, in Tokyo on Sunday.

"Often times, I surpass my targets after writing them without thinking much."

The athletics team use the board at Rakunan High School in the ancient city of Kyoto to declare their aims.

If Kiryu were to run that fast, he would break Japan's national record of 10.00 seconds, and become the first native Asian to dip under the 10-second barrier.

Kiryu said he wrote 10.30 on the board before setting a new under-18 world record of 10.21 in October last year, which he lowered to 10.19 a month later.

A headwind of 1.2 metres per second spoiled his bid to break 10 seconds on Sunday in his international debut. He clocked 10.40 with American Mike Rodgers first in 10.19 and the Bahama's Derrick Atkins second in 10.24.

Both 2009 US champion Rodgers and 2007 world silver medallist Atkins have personal bests under 10 seconds.

"The season has just begun. I want to work hard and run under 10 seconds by the second half of the season," Kiryu said.

After battling for the lead in the first 50 metres he said he started to look at the other runners and could not focus on his lane.

"This is an issue I have to solve hereafter," he said.

Japan's national record was set by Koji Ito in 1998. Ito's time was the Asian record until 2007 when Nigerian-born Qatari Samuel Francis streaked over the line in 9.99.

The 10-second barrier has been broken by only about 80 male runners, nearly all of them of West African descent, since American Jim Hines clocked 9.95 at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics.



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