• Kyodo


Marie Imada finished fourth for Japan’s best performance in the Saitama International Marathon on Sunday, but failed to meet the qualifying standards for the Marathon Grand Championship, which also serves as the Japanese trial for the 2020 Olympics.

In the race won by 20-year-old Dalila Gosa of Bahrain in 2 hours, 25 minutes, 35 seconds, Imada clocked 2:29:35, neither making the top three with a time under 2:29:00, nor finishing in the top six in under 2:28:00 to earn a place in next fall’s MGC event.

Only eight women have met the qualifying standards so far for the MGC, which will be held Sept. 15, 2019, in Tokyo. The MGC is a race that will determine two of the three members for both the men’s and women’s marathon teams for the Tokyo Olympics.

On Sunday, Imada and Saki Tokoro fell behind the leading pack around the 23-km mark, while the women’s 42.195-km race —an IAAF Silver Label Road Race — turned into a duel between Gosa and fellow Bahraini Shitaye Habtegebrel down the final stretch.

“I was able to win because I trained hard. I’m very happy,” Gosa said. “I’d like to work more on speed and endurance, and be able to maximize my performance.”

Habtegebrel crossed the finish line at the Saitama Super Arena four seconds after Gosa, and Kenya’s Sylvia Jebiwot Kibet took third in 2:28:38.

Mao Kiyota, who competed in the world athletics championships in London last summer, finished fifth in 2:31:07, and Tokoro came home sixth.

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