Yuka Ando to Challenge World Women's Marathon in London
A week ago on March 12, a youthful woman runner gave her first crack at a marathon and finished closely second to a reputed Kenyan-Bahraini marathoner. She clocked 2:21:36 - fourth best in Japan's women's marathon.
Yuka Ando, 22, had never run a marathon and the Nagoya's Women's Marathon was her first attempt to run the full distance. Ando was one of the three Japanese runners to compete in the race. A Kenyan-Bahraini Eunice Jepkirui Kirwa was regarded the likely winner of the race and Ando stuck with her from midway to past 30 kilometers. Kirwa made three attempts to shake Ando off the race. Ando survived twice and gave in only at Kirwa's last attempt at 5 kilometers to the goal.
Ando's impressive performance won her membership in Japan's women's marathon roster for the World Marathon Championships in London, August this year.
The Japan Amateur Athletic Federation also handpicked Mao Kiyota who finished Nagoya at her own second best time and Risa Shigetomo who completed a very steady race. The 3-member marathon team is currently the best Japan can offer, says the federation.
Yuka Ando commented at the press interview:
"I am definitely happy to have been selected to represent Japan in London and also feel awfully responsible."
"To compete with the world's best runners, I know I must run aggressively and hang on to the race when challenged in the later part of the way."
"I need to condition my physique to pull through the race with. I need to maintain a will to grab the medal in London and to challenge further at the Tokyo Olympic Games."
In men's marathon in London, Japan enters the "citizen's runner" Yuki Kawauchi who finished 3rd in Fukuoka International Marathon, Kentaro Nakamoto who won Beppu-Oita Marathon, and Hiroto Inouye who clocked 2:8:22 at last month's Tokyo Marathon. (Nathan Shiga)