translated and edited by Brett Larner
Beijing Olympics 5000 m and 10000 m runner Yukiko Akaba (29, Team Hokuren) has confirmed that she will make her marathon debut in the Jan. 25 Osaka International Women's Marathon, a selection race for the 2009 Berlin World Track and Field Championships. "I'm going to run Osaka," Akaba told reporters after the Nov. 3 East Japan Jitsugyodan Women's Ekiden. Explaining her reasoning for choosing Osaka for her debut, Akaba said, "All four years that I was in university I won my stage in the National University Women's Ekiden in Osaka, so there are a lot of good memories for me there."
The first mother in the history of Japanese track and field to forge a successful career, Akaba has followed a 2-year marathon development plan since giving birth to her daughter Una. "I thought it would be best to start from polishing my speed on the track," she explained. She is satisfied with this phase of her plan after having made both the 5000 m and 10000 m in Beijing and now looks toward bigger goals, saying, "I want to run the marathon in the London Olympics and will be going for a medal."
In the East Japan Ekiden she passed 6 competitors on the 3rd stage, a feat Akaba said demonstrated that her speed has developed sufficiently for the transition to the marathon. She will now head to Tokunoshima near Okinawa to focus on marathon training. Akaba seeks not only to have a strong debut in Osaka but to win the race and to qualify for the Berlin World Championships. She affirmed with conviction, "I'm not afraid to take on the distance and I will be on the Berlin team."
Translator's note: JRN previously published detailed profiles of Akaba before her run at last month's World Half Marathon Championships and in the spring after her course-record victory at the Corporate Half Marathon Championships.