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Berlin, Sunday, Sept 26, 10.30gmt
Yoko Shibui provided further proof that Japanese women rule the world of
distance running when she won the real,-Berlin Marathon on Sunday morning
in 2hr 19min 41sec, making her the fourth fastest women in history.
But for being baulked by a race official after passing under the
Brandenburg Gate, just 200 metres from the finish, the 25 year old might
have beaten the Asian record of 2.19.39, set by Sun Yingjie of China in
Beijing last year.
But Shibui did break the Japanese national record of 2.19.46 that Sydney
Olympic winner, Naoko Takahashi ran in Berlin 2001, when it was the first
time a women had run under 2hr 20min.
Shibui's victory comes in the wake of her colleague, Mizuki Noguchi’s
victory in the Olympic Marathon in Athens five weeks ago.
The weather conditions could not have been more different. While the
Olympic race was run on the hottest day of the Greek summer, with midday
temperatures at 39C, the Berlin race began in 9C with light rain, rising to
10C during the race.
Shibui was never challenged during the race, and her victory was the fifth
in succession for Japanese women in Berlin. Kazumi Matsuo won in 2000,
Takahashi in 2001/2, and Yasuko Hashimoto last year. Yet another Japanese,
Hiromi Ominami was second yesterday, in 2.23.26. Sonja Oberem of Germany
made good her pre-race prediction by finishing third in 2.26.53. European
bronze medallist two years ago, Oberem announced her retirement from
The men's race also followed a traditional pattern, Kenyans all the way.
Favourite Felix Limo won in 2.06.44, but he was made to work for his
victory, only getting away from colleague, Joseph Riri in the last
kilometre. "I knew I would win swhen it came down to just the two of us,"
said Limo, who had hoped to break his personal best of 2.06.14, from
victory in Rotterdam in April.
Runner-up Riri was rewarded with a massive personal best, dropping from
2.16.04 in Stockholm to 2.06.49 yesterday. Joshua Chelanga, a training
partner of Paul Tergat, who set the world record of 2.04.55 here last year,
was third in 2.07.05.