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Takahashi ready for run at Athens

Sydney Olympic champion Naoko Takahashi is not out to outclass the competition at the Tokyo International Women’s Marathon on Sunday.

News photoNaoko Takahashi will try to win
her seventh straight marathon when she runs in the Tokyo International Marathon on Sunday.

Instead of worrying about improving her time or placing among the top runners at the Tokyo race, Takahashi will be aiming to improve on all she has accomplished at this point in her career.

“Rather than competing against the other runners, I want to give my all to everything I’ve done to this point,” Takahashi said.

The diminutive 31-year-old is among 15 invitees who will take part in the race, which starts and ends at Tokyo’s National Stadium.

She will be attempting to win her seventh consecutive marathon when she takes to the course on Sunday.

The race doubles as a qualifier for the 2004 Athens Olympics, with Takahashi trying to secure one of the two remaining spots on Japan’s team.

Mizuki Noguchi, who won the silver medal in the marathon at the World Championships this summer, has already locked up one of Japan’s three spots.

Takahashi, who holds the national record of 2 hours, 19 minutes, 43 seconds, withdrew from last year’s race at the last minute due to a stress fracture in her left rib. She said she is excited to race in the marathon after the year layoff.

“It’s been one year, so I’m really happy to be running in this race. I wanted to show all my fans who have been waiting for my return that I’m healthy again,” she said.

Ethiopia’s Fatima Roba, the 1996 Atlanta Olympic gold medalist, said she will be aiming to improve her time to book a spot in Athens next year.

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