In the leadup to the final selection race for the Beijing Olympics Japanese women's marathon team, the Mar. 9 Nagoya International Women's Marathon, Sydney Olympics marathon gold medalist Naoko Takahashi (Team Phiten) returned to Japan on Feb. 27 after 2 months at her high-altitude training camp in Kunming, China.
Takahashi, 35, failed to qualify for the Athens Olympics 4 years ago. This last chance to make the Beijing Olympics will be everything for her. Speaking to reporters at Tokyo's Narita Airport, Takahashi said of her training in Kunming, "Everyday, I did exactly what I needed to do. I feel ready now. My goal is to run my own race."
While at the training camp Takahashi might have gotten discouraged when she ran into problems, but, she explained, "I try to live by my motto, 'Your dreams will come true if you don't give up.' The only thing I am thinking about is winning.' With such clear focus she was able to work through any challenges she faced.
"I don't know how many times I did 30 and 40 km runs." While at her main camp in Kunming, located at 1900 m elevation, she ran up to 70 km per day. She also ran at altitudes as high as 3200 m in the mountains near Kunming. "I'm the one who most wants to see the answer to the doubts about my training."
Takahashi's 'last chance' will take place on the Nagoya course where she has won both of her previous runs. But she knows it will not be easy this time. "It looks like everyone will be in Nagoya. It wouldn't be strange to talk about winning, but my goal is to run my own race."
After returning to Japan from high-altitude training before both the 2005 and 2006 Tokyo International Women's Marathons, Takahashi hurt her legs. "I tend to be accident-prone, but this time my heart is strong and I am going to be careful to avoid a cold or any more little accidents." Will we see the Q-chan we all hope for? Only 10 crucial days remain.
Translator's note: There is a huge quantity of press right now about Q-chan's training in Kunming. I will try to make time to translate some of the more informative articles. Here is a 3-part series about her, in Japanese, with some photos: