Noguchi fired up ahead of Nagoya Marathon


Athens Olympics gold medalist Mizuki Noguchi says she has overcome her latest fitness setback and is determined to rebound with victory at the Nagoya Women’s Marathon on Sunday.

“I’m excited and I can’t wait to start running. I will be aiming for victory and the 2 hour, 23 minute mark,” Noguchi told a news conference Friday.

Noguchi has been plagued by a succession of injuries in recent years, but she delivered a strong performance in the 2012 Nagoya race, finishing sixth in her first marathon since the Tokyo International Women’s Marathon in November 2007.

There was more frustration, though, in January when she pulled out of the Osaka International Women’s Marathon for the second year in a row due to fitness issues.

But the 34-year-old said, “I am in good shape. I want to run a more relaxed race than last year and hopefully grab a place on the Japan team for the world championships.”

The top Japanese finisher will automatically qualify for this summer’s worlds in Moscow with a time of 2:23:59 or better.

Ryoko Kizaki, Japan’s best performer in placing 16th at last year’s London Olympics, is also entered in the race.

“I am running at a higher standard than I have been until now in training,” said Kizaki. “I have a target of cutting 2:24:00 but first of all I want to challenge in this marathon.”