Tanaka All But Books Olympic Berth At Nagoya Marathon

Tanaka all but books Olympic berth at Nagoya MarathonTomomi Tanaka virtually booked a spot on the Japan women's marathon team to this summer's Rio de Janeiro Olympics by a margin of one second on Sunday.
By earning the best result by a Japanese runner at the Nagoya Women's Marathon, Tanaka has virtually earned a spot on the national Olympic team. She finished in two hours, 23 minutes, 19 seconds, one second ahead of compatriot Rei Ohara, who caught up to Tanaka and matched her stride for stride -- until the end.

"The hardest part of the race was when Ohara caught up with me," said Tanaka, who will be competing in her first Olympics.

"There were so many people cheering me on that it almost reduced me to tears. It really gave me power. I ran with strong determination to go to Rio and not lose out to anyone else."

"I won right at the end (against Kenya's Philes Ongori) in Yokohama too so I ran (today) thinking that I would definitely make it."

Her ticket to Rio will be validated at a board meeting of the Japan Association of Athletics Federations on Thursday, when the men's and women's teams will be announced.

Also in line for Rio are Kayoko Fukushi, who won January's Osaka International Women's Marathon, and Mai Ito, who was Japan's top finisher at last year's athletics world championships, where she finished seventh.

The Nagoya race, the last of three women's qualifying events for Japan's Olympics, was won by defending champion Eunice Jepkirui Kirwa of Bahrain in 2:22:40.

"The race was good but the pace was not good like last year," said Kirwa, who last year won in 2:22:08.

"I tried my best to push after 30 kilometers. But I am very happy because I ran 2:22 again. Now I will go back home and continue training hard because I know the Olympics will not be easy. I will go and do my best in training."