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Osaka International Women's Marathon Elite Field

by Brett Larner

Fresh off the suspension of its three-time defending champion Tetiana Shmyrko (Ukraine) for systematic cheating revealed through the biological passport system, the Osaka International Women’s Marathon’s elite field features a small overseas field that passes muster with IAAF labeling requirements while keeping the Eastern contingent to a bare minimum.  Karolina Nadolska (Poland) returns to Osaka with the fastest recent non-Japanese time in the field, 2:26:31, leading 2014 World Half Marathon Championships bronze medalist Sally Kaptich Chepyego (Kenya/Team Kyudenko) and Seong Eun Kim (South Korea).

More key is the domestic field competing for one of the two places still up for grabs on the Rio Olympic team. Half marathon national record holder Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal), elevated to the status of 2013 Osaka Women’s champ after Shmyrko’s defenestration, is poised to get the win for real this time as the clear favorite to find herself on the short list after the race regardless of whether she clears the JAAF’s 2:22:30 standard for auto-selection. Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya), controversially chosen for the 2015 Beijing World Championships team over 2014 Yokohama International Women’s Marathon winner Tomomi Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei) is her main domestic competition, with this year's 3rd-placer Yuko Watanabe (Team Edion) and up-and-comer Risa Takenaka (Team Shiseido) needing a big jump in quality to have a chance at competing.

The talented Misaki Kato (Team Kyudenko) is another, making her debut off solid half marathon credentials including a 1:09:49 in Osaka last year. Popular collegiate runner Sakurako Fukuuchi (Daito Bunka Univ.) will also be debuting. Other interesting names in the field include 2015 Hofu Yomiuri Marathon course record-setter Hisae Yoshimatsu (Shunan City Hall), 2015 Zurich Marathon winner Yoshiko Sakamoto (Yotsukaichi Wellness), 2014 100 km world silver medalist Chiyuki Mochizuki (Canon AC Kyushu) and masters runners Mari Ozaki (Team Noritz) and Chihiro Tanaka (Athlec RC).

Osaka International Women’s Marathon Elite Field
Osaka, Jan. 31, 2016
click here for complete field listing
times listed are 2013-2015 best marks except where noted

Kayoko Fukushi (Japan/Wacoal) – 2:24:21 (Osaka Int’l 2013)
Yuko Watanabe (Japan/Edion) – 2:25:56 (Osaka Int’l 2013)
Karolina Nadolska (Poland) – 2:26:31 (Osaka Int’l 2014)
Risa Shigetomo (Japan/Tenmaya) – 2:26:39 (Osaka Int'l 2015)
Mari Ozaki (Japan/Noritz) - 2:26:41 (Osaka Int'l 2013)
Sally Kaptich Chepyego (Kenya/Kyudenko) – 2:26:43 (Tokyo 2015)
Seong Eun Kim (South Korea) – 2:27:20 (Seoul Int’l 2013)
Misato Horie (Japan/Noritz) – 2:27:57 (Nagoya Women’s 2014)
Risa Takenaka (Japan/Shiseido) – 2:28:09 (Nagoya Women’s 2015)
Diana Lobacevske (Lithuania) – 2:28:57 (Hamburg 2015)
Chieko Kido (Japan/Canon AC Kyushu) – 2:29:08 (Osaka Int’l 2015)
Beatrice Jepkemboi Toroitich (Kenya) - 2:29:22 (Toronto Waterfront 2013)
Atsede Habtamu (Ethiopia) - 2:29:40 (Toronto Waterfront 2015)
Yuka Takemoto (Japan/Canon AC Kyushu) – 2:31:02 (Kita-Kyushu 2014)
Shoko Mori (Japan/Otsuka Seiyaku) – 2:34:28 (Osaka Int'l 2015)
Hiroko Miyauchi (Japan/Hokuren) – 2:35:03 (Osaka Int'l 2014)
Kanae Shimoyama (Japan/Noritz) – 2:35:26 (Osaka Int'l 2015)
Hisae Yoshimatsu (Japan/Shunan City Hall) – 2:35:46 (Hofu 2015)
Yoshiko Sakamoto (Japan/Yotsukaichi Wellness) – 2:36:29 (Osaka Int'l 2015)
Chihiro Tanaka (Japan/Athlec RC) – 2:36:53 (Kobe 2013)
Chiyuki Mochizuki (Japan/Canon AC Kyushu) - 2:40:11 (Beppu-Oita 2013)

Debut
Misaki Kato (Japan/Kyudenko) – 1:09:49 (Osaka Half 2015)
Sakurako Fukuuchi (Japan/Daito Bunka Univ.) – 1:11:44 (Nat’l Univ. Half 2015)
Aiko Sakata (Japan/Ritsumeikan Univ.) – 1:14:08 (Marugame Int’l Half 2014)
Mai Nagaoka (Japan/Osaka Gakuin Univ.) – 1:15:08 (Nat’l Univ. Half 2015)
Haruna Horikawa (Japan/Tokyo Nogyo Univ.) – 1:15:53 (Tachikawa City 2014)
Haruka Hanada (Japan/Osaka Geidai Univ.) – 1:16:08 (Nat'l Univ. Half 2015)
Saki Tokoro (Japan/Kansai Gaikokugo Univ.) - 1:16:28 (Nat'l Univ. Half 2015)
Aya Higashimoto (Japan/Juhachi Ginko) – 1:16:29 (Osaka Half 2013)
Eri Utsunomiya (Japan/Daito Bunka Univ.) - 33:47.97 10000 m (Keio Univ. 2014)

© 2015 Brett Larner
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