Sydney Olympic champion Naoko Takahashi said Thursday she is ready to make a fresh start when she hits the road in Tokyo on Nov. 20 for her first full marathon in two years.
“I’ve given my all to do what I thought I should do for the upcoming race, though it may not be perfect,” Takahashi said after returning to Japan from her training base in Colorado.
Takahashi, who became the first Japanese woman to win an Olympic marathon gold medal at the 2000 Games, chose the Tokyo International Women’s Marathon for her comeback race after her shock defeat in the same race two years ago killed her hopes of defending her Olympic title in Athens.
“I hadn’t run in a race for a while before coming into that race and I was unable to keep my feet on the ground,” Takahashi said of her defeat. “This time, I’ll try to keep my composure to the end.”
In the 2003 Tokyo race, which served as an Olympic qualifier, Takahashi appeared on course for victory and a place in the Athens Games before slowing down in the late stages to allow Elfenesh Alemu of Ethiopia to claim victory.
Takahashi finished runner-up and 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.
Takahashi has since been plagued with a series of injuries, including a broken ankle she sustained during training in September last year, which delayed her comeback to a competitive marathon.
The upcoming race will also be the first for the 33-year-old since she ended her 10-year relationship with coach Yoshio Koide and formed her own team with three support members in June.
Takahashi said she has gone through training with the new team based on a regimen she drew up by herself from her past experience.
“I don’t know if it will turn out right or wrong,” Takahashi said, referring to her training method.
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