News Archive

News Archive

Olympic drama for Takahashi as Tosa storms to victory in Nagoya

Naoko Takahashi, Japan’s greatest marathon runner ever, will not be able

to defend her Olympic marathon Gold in Athens. The 31 year-old, who has a

status of a national hero back home in Japan, was not nominated for the Olympic

race by her federation. It was four years ago, when she caused enthusiasm

throughout Japan by winning the Olympic marathon in Sydney. A year later Naoko

Takahashi made history, when she won the real,- BERLIN MARATHON and became the

first woman to break the 2:20 barrier. She clocked 2:19:46.

Hampered by injury problems in 2003 she was supposed to be fit for the Tokyo

Marathon in November. But at the end of the race Takashi was running into

trouble and finally could only finish second in 2:27:21. As Mizuki Noguchi had

already been pre-selected for Athens after winning the silver medal in the IAAF

World Championships in Paris there were only two spots left for the Olympic

team. It was now decided that the two winners from the qualification races in

Osaka (Naoko Sakamoto/2:25:29) and Nagoya (Reiko Tosa/2:23:57) will join

Noguchi in Athens. Concerning the men’s team Tomoaki Kunichika, Shigeru

Aburaya and Toshinari Suwa were nominated for the marathon.

But it was the women’s nomination process which became dramatic.

Before the start of the Nagoya Marathon it was almost obvious that only one

place would be left. Besides Noguchi it seemed certain that Naoko Sakamoto

would be named as well since she had won the high-class Osaka Marathon in

January. So either Naoko Takahashi or the winner of Nagoya would get the third

ticket.

It was probably decisive in which manner Reiko Tosa won on Sunday in Nagoya.

It was herself who forced the pace early in the race, when it seemed to become

tactical and slow. At the 25 k mark (1:25:51) seven runners were in the leading

group. And it was again Reiko Tosa who stepped up the pace. But there was one

runner she could not leave behind: Magumi Tanaka. Then Tanaka was even ahead of

Tosa by a couple of seconds. But five kilometres from the finish Reiko Tosa

managed to get back into the lead and finally left Tanaka behind. “As

long as I was able to see her I did not give up. I want to go to Athens”,

Tosa later explained. She had already won a marathon silver at the IAAF World

Championships in Edmonton 2001. Tanaka took second place in a personal best of

2:24:47 while Aki Fujjikawa was third in 2:27:06.

 

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