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Fukushi in the Aftermath

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The door is open for Q-chan to make it to Beijing. At the second selection race for the Beijing Olympic women's marathon team, queen of the track Kayoko Fukushi failed to make the grade. Top Japanese finisher Tomo Morimoto's time was also relatively slow, meaning that the Olympic team's final member will not be settled until the Nagoya International Women's Marathon on Mar. 9. For Naoko Takahashi, who declared some time ago that she would be running Nagoya, the chance exists to make the team.

The marathon is not sweet. The bloody scrape across her nose is a fitting symbol of Fukushi's first time at the 42.195 km distance. Going out faster than Mizuki Noguchi's course record pace, Fukushi was smooth and powerful but building up a debt her lack of preparation could not repay. With legs growing heavier after the 25 km point the race became a demonstration of Fukushi's lack of stamina. When pursuing runners began to catch her she could not even attempt to stay with them as they flew by. "Something unpredictable happened here," commented Tadayuki Nagayama, Fukushi's coach and head coach of Team Wacoal.

570 m before entering the stadium and 3 more times during the single lap to the finish Fukushi fell to the ground, the last time just meters before the goal line. "After 30 km my eyes and legs stopped working properly. Everything in my brain went white. I can't remember anything about the last stretch," Fukushi told reporters before being taken to a nearby hospital. She was examined and treated and then returned to her hotel.

After the race Rikuren executive Keisuke Sawaki commented, "The marathon takes a great deal of seriousness and preparation." Fukushi began her preparation for Osaka after running her last ekiden of the year in December. Yoshio Koide, former coach of Olympic medalists Takahashi and Yuko Arimori, also weighed in. "Fukushi is the kind of athlete who comes along once in 10 years, but the marathon is not so sweet. 1 month is not enough time to get ready."

So many journalists tried to cover the "Race of the Century" that their numbers had to be limited at the stadium. Although Fukushi failed in the face of such attention, everything is not over for her. She has already decided to aim for the 10000 m in Beijing. "I'm not going to dwell on this. I'm looking toward what comes next." Fukushi will try to put the nightmare of Osaka behind her when she runs the All-Japan Track and Field Championships in June to qualify for the Beijing Olympics. She has yet to run an Olympic A-standard 31:45 within the current qualification window but will run a race in the spring to do so before the Championships. Nagayama had no comment on Fukushi's future marathon plans.

Early in the morning after her marathon debut Fukushi jogged for an hour, cheerfully calling out, "Good morning!" Nagayama described Fukushi as, "Healthy and in good spirits. She wasn't hurt as badly as we thought." She returned to Kyoto by car later in the day.


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sponsor: Chugoku Denryoku
graduated from: Tottori Chuo Ikuei H.S., Meiji University

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