• Kyodo


Japan’s Naoko Takahashi said Thursday she will not run for a world record at Sunday’s Berlin Marathon on a course where the Olympic champion became the first woman to break the barrier of 2 hours, 20 minutes.

News photoMarathoner Naoko Takahashi , the gold medalist at the 2000 Summer Olympics, smiles during a news conference ahead of Sunday’s Berlin Marathon.

“I’m 70 to 80 percent of my best form. I came here to take the first step in my buildup program to the next Olympics,” Takahashi said. “My goal this time is to gain something and it could be confidence or to learn a lesson.”

Takahashi, who won has five straight marathons since 1998, said the good course and enthusiastic crowds attracted her back to Berlin.

Last year, Takahashi outclassed the field and clocked 2:19:46 to break the previous best time of 2:20:43 set by Kenya’s Tegla Loroupe in 1999 also on the German capital’s flat course.

Takahashi’s record, however, proved short-lived as Kenyan Catherine Ndereba ran in 2:18:47 in Chicago seven days later.

Paula Radcliffe of Britain then moved into second on the all-time list when she closed within nine seconds of Ndereba in London in April.

Takahashi said she will not use any pace-setters Sunday, unlike last year when a group of male runners helped her negotiate the winds and stay on course for a new record for much of the race.

“It’s going to be challenging. I can’t predict what it’s going to be like,” Takahashi said, adding she is still recovering from a leg injury suffered earlier this month.

“I didn’t have enough time to prepare for this race. My preparation (for the new season) is two months behind that of last year and the injury hit me when I was trying to move into top gear at an extremely fast pace,” she said.

Takahashi’s press conference was attended by more than 100 reporters covering her first marathon since her record-setting run a year ago.

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