translated and edited by Brett Larner
Seizing her last chance to qualify for the Japanese national women's marathon team for this August's World Championships in Berlin, Tomo Morimoto (Team Tenmaya) is running the Apr. 26 London Marathon. After being unable to run the Beijing Olympics as the team alternate, Morimoto is quietly determined to make her first World Championships team. "This time I'm going to make it," she says with understated resolve.
At last year's Osaka International Women's Marathon Morimoto couldn't put the kind of race she wanted together. After a slow first half spent in the pack far behind leader Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal), eventual winner Mara Yamauchi (U.K.) broke away when Fukushi came within sight. Morimoto gave pursuit but was unable to close the gap to Yamauchi and finished 2nd. Although Morimoto ran a faster time, her teammate Yurika Nakamura (Team Tenmaya) was chosen over her for Beijing after winning March's Nagoya International Women's Marathon. Morimoto was relegated to the team alternate position.
"Not making the Olympic team is a pretty unhappy memory," Morimoto says. This time she wants to be onstage without any questions. Her determination shows in practice. Morimoto suffered a longterm injury to the tendons on the top of her right foot before the Beijing Olympics and was only able to resume serious marathon training in February. It has gone well, and she has been able to do almost all the main workouts on the menu. "I got in all my important high-quality training," she says. Her coach Yutaka Taketomi agrees, commenting, "She is exceptionally skilled at focusing on preparing for a key race."
To make the World Championships team Morimoto will have to outdo the strong debut performance by this year's Osaka runner-up Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren). Morimoto says her main goal is "to beat Akaba's time in Osaka [2:25:40]." Along the way there is another runner she's aiming to take down: "The one who beat me in Osaka, Mara." Yamauchi's win cost Morimoto a place in Beijing. Considering that Yamauchi went on to finish 6th in the Olympic marathon, Morimoto outrunning her in London would have a major impact.