translated and edited by Brett Larner
On the evening of Aug. 12, the JOC announced that Athens Olympics women`s marathon gold medalist Mizuki Noguchi (30, Team Sysmex), who at this Sunday's Beijing Olympic marathon planned to attempt to become the first woman to defend an Olympic marathon title, has officially withdrawn from the race due to an injury to her left thigh. Representatives of Noguchi's team informed Rikuren of their decision earlier in the day on the 12th.
Noguchi issued the following statement: "I've tried everything I can to recover, but when I run I'm still in a lot of pain and I can't take my training to the next level. Everything I've done in the last four years has been for Beijing so my desire to run has never disappeared, but considering my current situation I have to give it up. Because of my withdrawal there's going to be much heavier expectation of Tosa and Nakamura so I worry that the pressure on them is going to be even stronger, but I sincerely hope they do well in Beijing."
JOC vice president and secretary general Kenichi Chizuka commented, "It's a shock. If I can speak bluntly, the coach is more to blame here than the athlete. Rikuren informed us of this decision and the JOC has no choice but to respect it, but it is utterly disappointing. Let's all get behind Tosa now."
Reached for comment, Noguchi's father Minoru (56) said that he had learned of Noguchi's withdrawal through a telephone call from a friend who had seen the news on TV. "She's the one who's suffering the most," he said with profound sadness. "I don't know what I could say to her." During Noguchi's training he never had contact with her because of her intense focus. "She's the kind of person who would run until her legs break for all those who support her, so her injury must be really serious. This was the coaches' decision about what's best for her future, so there's nothing we as amateurs can say about it."
The JOC also reported that women's marathon team alternate Tomo Morimoto (Team Tenmaya) is likewise injured and will not be able to run. As a result, only Reiko Tosa (32, Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) and Yurika Nakamura (22, Team Tenmaya) will represent Japan in the women's marathon.