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World Championships Women's Marathon - Results

by Brett Larner

For only the third time in the last 20 years, the Japanese women's World Championships marathon team came up empty-handed, outdone by a superb team performance from Kenya who marked the first-ever sweep of a world-level marathon.  After a slow first half which saw Azusa Nojiri (Team Daiichi Seimei) take the lead from 8 km to 15 km in a bid to get the pace on track, defending silver medalist Yoshimi Ozaki (Team Daiichi Seimei) faltered when the action began at 33 km, moving backwards from the front of the pack and ultimately finishing 18th as the third woman on the Japanese team.

The other four Japanese women on the team finished in PB order ranging from 5th for Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) to Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) in 22rd.  Nojiri was the first to lose touch with the leaders after the forcing the field into action, but after staying within sight of the front pack she later overtook Ito and ended up just back from Ozaki in 19th.  Akaba and the young Remi Nakazato (Team Daihatsu) remained at the front pack until the Kenyans' big move at 33 km; when things broke apart Nakazato continued on with a group including China's Xiaolin Zhu and Jiali Wang, just cracking the top ten.

When Kenyans Edna Kiplagat, Priscah Jeptoo and Sharon Cherop surged away at 33 km with Ethiopians Aberu Kebede and Bezunesh Bekele in tow Akaba waited, not making her own move until 35 km when she set off in pursuit to try to retake a place in the medals.  After dropping a place to Kenyan-born Isabellah Andersson of Sweden while waiting to start her push Akaba moved up from 7th to 5th, her husband and coach Shuhei Akaba frantically screaming at her through a plastic megaphone from the sidelines to go faster.  Akaba ran the third-fastest split in the field from 35 km to the finish and the second-fastest, just 2 seconds slower than winner Kiplagat, from 40 km to the end, but her move came too late for her to close the gap to Cherop and Bekele.  Her tactical error in sticking to script and not responding to the move when it happened, on relying on gaman over racing sense, cost her a bronze medal; only 21 seconds from 3rd place and closing, even a marginally stronger effort to respond to the Kenyans between 33 and 35 km may have been enough for Akaba to close it.

The Japanese women also finished just seconds out of the medals in the team scoring, 4th behind Ethiopia by 38 seconds due in large part to Ozaki's disappointing performance.  China was a surprise silver, the Kenyans taking gold in a perfect sweep.

2011 World Championships Women's Marathon
Daegu, Korea, 8/27/11
click here for complete results

1. Edna Kiplagat (Kenya) - 2:28:43
2. Priscah Jeptoo (Kenya) - 2:29:00
3. Sharon Cherop (Kenya) - 2:29:14
4. Bezunesh Bekele (Ethiopia) - 2:29:21
5. Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) - 2:29:35
6. Xiaolin Zhu (China) - 2:29:58
7. Isabellah Andersson (Sweden/Kenya) - 2:30:13
8. Jilai Wang (China) - 2:30:25
9. Marisa Barros (Portugal) - 2:30:29
10. Remi Nakazato (Team Daihatsu) - 2:30:52
-----
18. Yoshimi Ozaki (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 2:32:31
19. Azusa Nojiri (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 2:33:42
22. Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:35:16

Team Scoring
1. Kenya - 7:26:57
2. China - 7:31:34
3. Ethiopia - 7:32:20
4. Japan - 7:32:58
5. Ukraine - 7:45:44

Comments

Brett Larner said…
Still relevant: http://japanrunningnews.blogspot.com/2008/08/good-enough-mentality-can-never-win.html
yuza said…
The above article is quite apt for Akaba's performance yesterday. I thought she ran really well, but she looked comfortable the whole race and I kept wondering when she was going to make a move; it never came until after the Kenyans had taken off.

Noguchi won in Athens because she made the first move and applied pressure to the rest of the field; there was no pressure yesterday from anybody. I really hope Noguchi can get fit for next year.

Ozaki was a bit disappointing, but something tells me that she was not right for the race. The rest ran honest races, yet I was particularly impressed with Nakazato.

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