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Yoshimi Ozaki Targeting 2:21 in London

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/flash/KFullFlash20100407007.html

translated by Brett Larner

On the verge of taking up the title of Japanese women's marathoning ace, Yoshimi Ozaki (Team Daiichi Seimei) is running the Apr. 25 London Marathon for the first time. At the National Jitsugyodan Half Marathon Championships in Yamaguchi on Mar. 21 she was 2nd overall and the top Japanese finisher, indicating that everything has gone smoothly with her preparations. Hoping to run a 2:21 PB in her first time at the world's fastest race, she says confidently, "My target time is in reach."

In just her third marathon Ozaki won the silver medal at last August's World Championships in Berlin, giving a tremendous boost to her self-confidence. The 28 year old Ozaki has been "doing 50 m repeats at top speed and working as hard as I can on being able to surge during the race." With the results of a high-quality training camp in hand she is eagerly looking forward to reaping the benefits.

Leading her is 1991 World Championships marathon silver medalist Sachiko Yamashita. Yamashita views London as the next step in her pupil's growth. "This time it isn't a selection race for the national team but a chance to challenge the best in the world. It's also a chance to get used to the London environment," she says, alluding to the Olympic games now just two years away.

This year's London Marathon field includes last year's world champion Xue Bai (China), two-time defending champion Irina Mikitenko (Germany), last year's runner-up Mara Yamauchi (GBR) and most of the other top runners in the world. Ozaki's PB of 2:23:30 came in winning the 2008 Tokyo International Women's Marathon in her first time on the course. "I'm positive this is going to be a fast race," says Ozaki. With confidence she predicts, "I'll be up front and am going to run a race to remember."

Translator's note: In its London preview, American fan website letsrun.com inexplicably calls Ozaki, the 2009 World Championships silver medalist, a 'wanna-be.' It also incorrectly claims that she has never won a major marathon despite then listing her 2:23:30 win, which came at the 2008 Tokyo International Women's Marathon, one of the world's premier elite women's races, rather than the 2008 Tokyo Marathon as suggested in the website's preview. In her Tokyo International Women's Marathon win Ozaki beat London entrants Mara Yamauchi (GBR) and Svetlana Zakharova (RUS), 2009 Boston Marathon winner Salina Kosgei (Kenya), 2009 New York City Marathon winner Derartu Tulu (Ethiopia), 2:19 woman / 2009 Osaka International Women's Marathon winner Yoko Shibui (Team Mistui Sumitomo Kaijo) and 2009 World Championships team member / 2010 Nagoya International Women's Marathon winner Yuri Kano (Second Wind AC).

Besides these two strong performances, Ozaki was 2nd in her debut marathon at the 2008 Nagoya International Women's Marathon, a close 2nd behind London as the world's top-ranked elite women's marathon. London will be Ozaki's 4th marathon. As she states in this article, her goal is a 2:21.

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