Sydney champion Takahashi's Olympic dream ends
Sydney Olympic champion Naoko Takahashi's dreams of running for glory in Beijing ended Sunday as the Japanese stalled in the Nagoya international women's marathon won by compatriot Yurika Nakamura.
The event was the last of three marathons that the Japanese athletic association has set aside as national trials to decide three Olympic berths for the women.
Nakamura, running in her first full marathon, spurted after 33 kilometres and overtook front-running Chika Horie to win the race in two hours 25 minutes and 51 seconds with Yoshimi Ozaki second in 2:26.19 and Yuri Kano third in 2:26.39.
Takahashi, 35, who had declared it would be her last Olympic challenge after failing to be selected for the 2004 Athens Games, stalled after nine kilometres and finished 27th in 2:44.18.
"It really was a disappointing result against my dreams," the dimunitive Takahashi said. "I still want to continue my career as an athlete. There are things I want to do and I have told my staff that I want to run a little more."
Takahashi, who also won the 2001 Berlin marathon in a then world record time of 2:19.45, revealed that she underwent surgery seven months ago to remove half of the meniscus in her right knee and started full-scale training only in January.
"I have kept telling myself not to give up," she said. "I think this is what I deserve in terms of my potential. I have no regrets."
Russian Lidia Vasilevskaya was the best finisher among foreign runners as she came in 47th in 2:54.10.
Nakamura, 21, said: "I had planned to spurt after about 32 kilometres and I went all out after I saw Horie go first. I tried hard to hang in there."
The association was to announce the Olympic line-up on Monday with Athens Olympic champion Mizuki Noguchi expected to be selected after her victory in the Tokyo international women's marathon last November.
Reiko Tosa has also been assured of one of the tickets by finishing third in last summer's world championships in Osaka in a race won by Kenyan Catherine Ndereba.
Nakamura was seen likely to vie for the remaining ticket with Tomo Morimoto, who finished second behind Britain's Mara Yamauchi at the Osaka marathon in January in 2:25:34.