• Kyodo

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Olympic medal hope Maki Tabata of Japan coasted to a national record in the 3,000 meters Sunday by clocking this season’s fastest time in the world at a pre-Olympic speed skating trial.

Tabata improved on her own Japanese record time by 2.73 seconds as she won the race in 4 minutes, 1.01 seconds on the fast ice of Calgary’s indoor rink.

“I was surprised when I saw what the electronic timing board was showing. I’ve been exhausted after practice the past few days and was less than 80 percent ready for the race,” Tabata said. “I don’t think that it’s impossible to break the four minute mark,” added Tabata, a bronze medalist at the single-distance world championships two years ago.

The current world record in the 3,000 is owned by Claudia Pechstein of Germany, who turned in a 3:59.26 in March 2001.

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