NAGOYA – Bahrain’s Eunice Jepkirui Kirwa successfully defended her title at the Nagoya Women’s Marathon on Sunday.
Kirwa, the Asian Games champion, came home in a time of 2 hours, 22 minutes, 40 seconds, while Tomomi Tanaka took second place in the race that was also the final qualifier for Japanese runners for this summer’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
Tanaka, the winner of the 2014 Yokohama International Women’s Marathon, clocked 2:23:19 to boost her hopes of going to Rio, while Rei Ohara was third in 2:23:20.
“The race was good but the pace was not good like last year,” said Kirwa, who won the 2015 race in 2:22:08.
“I tried my best to push after 30 km. But I am very happy because I ran 2:22 again. Now I will go back home and continue training hard because I know the Olympics will not be easy. I will go and do my best in training.”
Tanaka held on to take second place after edging out Ohara right at the death.
“There were so many people cheering me on that it almost reduced me to tears. It really gave me power,” said Tanaka. “I ran with strong determination to go to Rio and not lose out to anyone else.
“I won right at the end (against Kenya’s Philes Ongori) in Yokohama too so I ran (today) thinking that I would definitely make it.”
Mai Ito, who placed seventh at last summer’s world championships, has already qualified for Rio, while Kayoko Fukushi has also effectively booked a spot after winning the Osaka International Women’s Marathon.