Naoko Takahashi will be out to avenge her loss to Ethiopia’s Elfenesh Alemu when she runs in her first competitive full marathon in two years at this month’s Tokyo International Women’s Marathon.

News photoNaoko Takahashi

Organizers on Tuesday named Sydney Olympic champion Takahashi and 2003 winner Alemu among 16 invitees who will take part in the race that starts and finishes at National Stadium on Nov. 20.

Takahashi became the first Japanese woman to win an Olympic marathon gold medal at the 2000 Games in Sydney but could not defend her title in Athens last year after being dropped in the selection process.

The setback resulted from loss to Alemu in the 2003 Tokyo marathon, which served as one of the qualifying races for Japanese runners for the race in Athens.

Her time of 2 hours, 27 minutes, 21 seconds failed to convince Japanese athletics officials, and compatriot Mizuki Noguchi won the gold in Greece in her absence.

“Looking back, I hadn’t run for a while before that race (the 2003 Tokyo marathon) and I think I was tense and my mind just went blank,” Takahashi said in a statement. “I haven’t really given any thought to race tactics and this time I am going to relax.”

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