FUKUOKA – Yuki Kawauchi placed third at the Fukuoka International Marathon on Sunday, posting the best finish for Japan in an event that doubled as a qualifying trial for the world championships next year.
The 29-year-old, who suffered a cramp here last year and missed out on a berth at the Rio Olympics in August, crossed the finish line in 2 hours, 9 minutes, 11 seconds to throw his hat into the ring for the athletics worlds next August in London.
Yemane Tsegay of Ethiopia, the silver medalist at the world championships last year, won the title clocking 2:08:48. Two-time defending champion Patrick Makau of Kenya came nine seconds behind to settle for runner-up.
“I wasn’t expecting to get this far, to be honest,” said a teary Kawauchi, who has been battling injuries. “The experience of running 63 marathons helped. I’m relieved I could put in my best run in the worst condition I can be in.”
General participant Hayato Sonoda came fourth in his personal best time of 2:10:40.
“I hadn’t been able to improve my time until now but I guess all my efforts have paid off,” Sonoda said. “I was hell-bent on not giving in.”