translated and edited by Brett Larner
The elite athletes at this year's World Championships selection edition and 30th anniversary Osaka International Women's Marathon were presented at a press conference Jan. 28 in Osaka. Going for her first marathon win and second-straight World Championships team, Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) said, "I'm in the best shape I've ever been up until now." Of the new course, the first change in 20 years, last year's 6th-place finisher Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu) predicted, "They've cut down on the hills, but I think the race is going to be decided on what up-down there is."
Race organizers also announced that four invited elites have withdrawn. Yumiko Hara (Team Univ. Ent.) has pulled a muscle in her right thigh, while Tomo Morimoto (Team Tenmaya) has a stress fracture in her left foot. Overseas elites Adriana Fernandez (Mexico) and Teyana Holovchenko (Ukraine) have also withdrawn.