Athletics: Fukushi Named To 6 - Member Japan Olympic Marathon Team

Athletics: Fukushi named to 6-member Japan Olympic marathon teamKayoko Fukushi will run the women's Olympic marathon for the first time at this summer's Rio de Janeiro Games as the three-time Olympic middle distance athlete was named among the six-member Japanese marathon team on Thursday.

The 33-year-old Fukushi won the Osaka Marathon in January and was the only runner to better the qualifying standard time of 2 hours, 22 minutes, 30 seconds mandated by the Japan Association of Athletics Federations.

Tomomi Tanaka, 28, who was second at the Nagoya Marathon on Sunday and first Japanese woman across the line, joins Fukushi and 31-year-old Mai Ito, who had already booked her ticket last summer by finishing seventh at the world championships.

"I want a gold medal in the Rio de Janeiro Olympic women's marathon, so I won't give up whatever happens and will go there to race with determination," said Fukushi, who competed over both 5,000 and 10,000 meters at two of her past three summer Games.

There were no surprises among the men's team either, with Satoru Sasaki, Hisanori Kitajima and Suehiro Ishikawa all securing their berths after their recent strong showings.

Sasaki, 30, was third at the Fukuoka International Marathon in December, logging a personal best 2:08:56, while Kitajima, 31, and Ishikawa, 36, finished second and fourth respectively at the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon on March 6.

"There was the remote chance (of missing out) so I'm relieved to have been picked," Kitajima said. "It's finally sinking in that I'm going to be stepping onto the big stage. I hope to head into the Olympics psyched to get the result (I want)."