Mizuki Noguchi showed the poise of a seasoned veteran to win the Osaka International Women’s Marathon on Sunday, clocking the second fastest time for Japanese women in only her second marathon race.

Noguchi failed in her first attempt to pull away from marathon debutante Naoko Sakamoto at the 35-km mark but finally surged ahead with 3.5 km left and went on to cross the finish line at Nagai Stadium with a meet record time of 2 hours, 21 minutes, 18 seconds.

With the victory, the 24-year-old Noguchi earned a berth in the world championships in Paris in August. The winning time moved her into second on the all-time list of Japanese women behind Naoko Takahashi (2:19:46).

It was the second victory in as many marathon races for Noguchi, previously known as a half-marathon specialist with the silver medal in the 1999 world championships to her credit.

Masako Chiba was fourth until the 30-km point but came from behind to finish runnerup in 2:21:45. Sakamoto, who came home third in 2:21:51, set a new Japanese mark for a marathon debutante.

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