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Japanese Women Sweep Half Marathon at World University Games (updated)

by Brett Larner

Click photo for full-sized version.

The women's and men's half marathon kicked off the biggest day of long distance action at the 2009 World University Games, and the Japanese women did what they do best. Josai University's Chisato Saito led Kikuyo Tsuzaki and Sayo Nomura of Meijo University to a Japanese sweep of the women's half marathon. The relatively easy pace played into the hands of Tsuzaki and Nomura, the only runners in the field with PB marks under 72 minutes, but for Saito the win required an A-level effort as she ran just 3 seconds off her PB in 1:13:44. "I didn't expect to win at all, so more than happy I'm just surprised," Saito told reporters after the race.

Tsuzaki finished 19 seconds back in 2nd, with Nomura taking 3rd by a margin of 23 seconds over 4th placer Jong-Hyang Kim of North Korea who was more than a minute off the winning time. Asian runners took 9 of the top 11 positions.

The men's race was a more balanced competition, with the top 8 finishing within a minute of winner Ran Zhao of China, who outkicked newly-graduated Tomoya Onishi, the former leader of 2009 Hakone Ekiden winner Toyo University, by 2 seconds to take the gold in 1:04:28. Italian Francesco Bona likewise outkicked Komazawa University star Soji Ikeda for bronze, finishing 5 seconds behind silver medalist Onishi in 1:04:35 with Ikeda close behind in 1:04:39. A gap separated the top four from the rest of the field. Onishi's former Toyo teammate Yoshihiro Wakamatsu was the only Japanese half marathoner to have an off day, finishing 11th in 1:05:54.

2009 World University Games - Top Finishers
click event headers for complete results
Women's Half Marathon
1. Chisato Saito (Josai Univ.) - 1:13:44
2. Kikuyo Tsuzaki (Meijo Univ.) - 1:14:03
3. Sayo Nomura (Meijo Univ.) - 1:14:23
4. Jong-Hyang Kim (North Korea) - 1:14:46
5. Rasa Drazdauskaite (Lithuania) - 1:15:00 - PB
6. Mi Gyong Kim (North Korea) - 1:15:11
7. Ho Sun Park (South Korea) - 1:15:28
8. Yon Hui Rim (North Korea) - 1:15:59
9. Filomena Costa (Portugal) - 1:16:16
10. Seong Eun Kim (South Korea) - 1:16:17

Men's Half Marathon
1. Ran Zhao (China) - 1:04:28
2. Tomoya Onishi (Toyo Univ.) - 1:04:30
3. Francesco Bona (Italy) - 1:04:35 - PB
4. Soji Ikeda (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:04:39
5. Vasyl Matviychuk (Ukraine) - 1:05:00
6. Abdellatif Ait Hsine (Morocco) - 1:05:08
7. Reginaldo Campos (Brazil) - 1:05:17
8. Abderrahim El Jaafari (Morocco) - 1:05:24
9. Tamas Kovacs (Hungary) - 1:05:35
10. Jin Hyeok Jeong (South Korea) - 1:05:42
11. Yoshihiro Wakamatsu (Toyo Univ.) - 1:05:54

(c) 2009 Brett Larner
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