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Sakamoto Withdraws From Osaka Due to Leg Injury

http://www.nishinippon.co.jp/nsp/sports/sports_all/20071209/20071209_009.shtml

translated by Brett Larner

On Dec. 9, Athens Olympics women`s marathon 7th place finisher Naoko Sakamoto (Team Tenmaya) announced that she has cancelled plans to compete in January`s Osaka International Women`s Marathon.

Her team`s coach Yutaka Taketomi revealed that Sakamoto is recovering from a minor injury to her right leg which will take some time to heal. "At this point Osaka is impossible." Asked whether Sakamoto has plans to run in the final Beijing Olympic team selection race, March`s Nagoya International Women`s Marathon, Taketomi replied, "We`re not saying she is going to run, but we`ll be keeping it in sight as we work on coming back."

As far as her participation in the All-Japan Jitsugyodan Women`s Ekiden on Dec. 16, Sakamoto said, "We haven`t decided that I won`t run but I think it looks pretty tough. At the same time I have a responsibility to my team, so I don`t know yet." We will have to wait and see whether she can pull through.

Translator`s note: Naoko Sakamoto ran 2:21:51 in Osaka `03 and was 7th in the Athens Olympics. The 5th-fastest Japanese woman of all time, Sakamoto was a favorite to make the Beijing Olympic team. If she manages to still run Nagoya and qualify, Japan would likely be sending the same team it sent to Athens, namely Mizuki Noguchi, Reiko Tosa and Sakamoto. Her absence from the remaining two Olympic team selection races would represent a significant and unexpected complication to the process.

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