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Mizuki Matsuda's marathon debut ends in Osaka triumph


Mizuki Matsuda won Sunday’s Osaka Women’s Marathon in her first race at that distance.

The 22-year-old covered the 42.195-km course in 2 hours, 22 minutes, 44 seconds to earn a berth in Japan’s Grand Championship for a shot to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Honami Maeda, who had already earned a spot in the Grand Championship through her victory at last summer’s Hokkaido Marathon, finished second, while Yuka Ando, who has run the fourth-fastest marathon by a Japanese woman, finished third.

Matsuda, Maeda and Ando all battled for the lead through the first 25 km before Maeda jumped to the front. But just ahead of the 31-km mark Matsuda overtook her and hung on to win by over a minute.

Maeda’s 2:23:48 time shaved five minutes off her personal best.

“I’m happy to have achieved my goal,” she said. “I found my courage as I ran and didn’t back down.”

Ando, by finishing in 2:27:37, under the 2:28 Grand Championship qualifying standard, also earned a berth in the Olympic qualifier.

The Grand Championship will be run at some point after September 2019 and will be used to select two men and two women for the 2020 Olympic team.

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