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Akaba aims for pleasing final race at Osaka Women’s Marathon

Kyodo

Yukiko Akaba is hoping to end her career with a smile as she prepares for her final race before retiring at the Osaka International Women’s Marathon on Sunday.

“It will be my last (race) as a competitor on Sunday. I haven’t been able to get myself in tip-top shape but I want to enjoy running and finish with a smile,” Akaba told a news conference Friday.

Risa Shigetomo, Osaka winner in 2012, also spoke of her hopes for the race, which serves as a qualifier for Japanese runners for the Asian Games this year in South Korea.

“I have had a good result once (in 2012) but haven’t run well since then. I want to deliver a result and aim again to be among the world’s top runners.”

Yuko Watanabe, third in last year’s race, said, “There are some great runners competing who have experience at the world championships or the Olympics. I want to see how well I can do as a challenger.”

Athens Olympic marathon champion Mizuki Noguchi last week pulled out of the race for the third year in a row due to a stress fracture in her left thighbone.