FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contacts: Richard Finn
Olympic Gold Medalist Mizuki Noguchi Named Abebe Bikila Award Winner
Noguchi is first Japanese recipient of award,
presented by New York Road Runners
NEW YORK - (October 27, 2005) - Mizuki Noguchi, the 2004 Olympic marathon
gold medalist and one of only six women to run a marathon in under two
hours, 20 minutes, has been named the 2005 Abebe Bikila Award winner. New
York Road Runners has given the prestigious honor annually since 1978 to an
individual who has made an outstanding contribution to distance running,
particularly through a spirit of deep commitment to the sport. Noguchi is
the first Japanese recipient.
New York Road Runners president and CEO and ING New York City Marathon race
director Mary Wittenberg made the announcement. Wittenberg will present the
award to Noguchi at the United Nations before the start of the Continental
Airlines International Friendship Run on Saturday, November 5, the day
before the ING New York City Marathon. Noguchi is then expected to join a
field of more than 15,000 people from around the world for the annual fun
run through Midtown Manhattan.
Previous winners of the Abebe Bikila Award include Lasse Viren, Grete
Waitz, Alberto Salazar, Bill Rodgers, Tegla Loroupe and New York City Mayor
Rudolph Giuliani. Last year's honoree was the 2004 men's Olympic marathon
champion Stefano Baldini of Italy.
"Mizuki is richly deserving of this award, which honors her individual
achievements as well as Japan's rich tradition of Olympic and world
champions," said Wittenberg.
At the Athens Olympics, Noguchi won the gold medal in 2:26:20 after she
courageously pulled away from a pack of runners and ran alone over
punishing hills in the second half of the race.
Last month, the 27-year-old Noguchi won the real,-Berlin Marathon in
2:19:12. She joined Paula Radcliffe (Great Britain), Catherine Ndereba
(Kenya), Sun Yingjie (China) and compatriots Naoko Takahashi and Yoko
Shibui as the only women to break the 2:20 barrier. Noguchi's winning time
set a Japanese record, eclipsing the old standard of 2:19:41 set by Shibui
at Berlin in 2004.
The award is named for the legendary Ethiopian runner Abebe Bikila, one of
only two people ever to win two Olympic marathon gold medals (Rome 1960 and
Tokyo 1964). Just five years after his second Olympic victory, Bikila was
in a car accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down. However,
until his death in 1973, Bikila remained an outspoken advocate of marathon
running and helped bring international attention to the sport.