by Brett Larner
An early-season typhoon brought cold, windy, rainy conditions to this year`s Osaka Grand Prix meet, causing weak results among competitors in all events.
In the most anticipated event of the meet, women`s 1500 m national record holder Yuriko Kobayashi easily defeated her rivals to win but missed her goal of an Olympic qualifying time. Kobayashi started well, leading the chase back a few meters behind leaders Sonja Roman of Slovakia and Lisa Corrigan of Australia. The two leaders hit 400 m in 64', with Kobayashi tying her national record split of 65' for the first lap. She spent the 2nd lap bridging the gap to the leaders, still on national record pace at 800 m with a 69' second lap.
In the 3rd lap Kobayashi made a move to take the lead but abruptly pulled back into the 1st lane to sit behind Roman and Corrigan, missing her chance to go after her goal time. The three runners hit 1100 m in 3:06, making even an Olympic B-standard 4:08 highly unlikely, then clocked 70` for the 3rd lap. With 200 m to go Kobayashi went past Corrigan, then with 30 m to go outkicked Roman to win in 4:13.96, slower than her 2nd place time at last week`s Cardinal Invitational at Stanford University. Roman held on to 2nd with a 4:14.24, while Corrigan was 3rd in 4:14.44.
In her post-race victory interview Kobayashi expressed disappointment in her time, saying she didn`t feel good in the poor conditions and promising to try again for an Olympic qualifying time. Her national record of 4:07.86 barely brings her under the B-standard 4:08, but Kobayashi already holds an A-standard qualifying time in the 5000 m and thus will likely be in Beijing this August one way or another.
For complete results, visit the Osaka Grand Prix site here.
(c) 2008 Brett Larner
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