A BREEZE FOR TAKAHASHI
It was a breeze for the "Daughter of the Wind"
Naoko Takahashi - currently starring in a manga comic strip in Japan - added the world record to her Olympic marathon title, when she won in Berlin Sunday morning, in a time of two hours, 19 minutes, 46 seconds. Takahashi takes thus 57 seconds from the mark set by Tegla Loroupe of Kenya on the same course two years ago. More pertinently, it is the first time that a woman has run sub-2hr 20min. Loroupe was never in the race for victory and, although second finished in 2.28.02. In her first ever mixed race - she only ran in womens championships in the past - Takahashi thanked her guards, local men who protected her in the first half of the race, and said, "the weather was perfect (15 degrees centigrade), and the course was excellent. Until now Ive been happy just to compete against rivals, this was the first time against the clock. I can compare this to the Olympics, Ive always had two aims, to win the Olympic title, and set a worlds best, they are both the same for me". Takahashi, who bought her own chef, masseur and entourage of a dozen to Berlin struck out alone from the start. She was always on world record pace, as her rivals fell further and further behind. Even a rain shower at halfway did not deter her. With close to a hundred Japanese media following her to the German capital, including the journalist who writes Kazekko (Daughter of the Wind), next weeks comic book sale risk running into millions. In the mens race, a Kenyan pacemaker - this time, Joseph Ngolepus - won for the second year in succession, in 2.08.47. Ngolepus, who trains with Loroupe in Detmold in the Rhineland, said, "At 21 kilometres, the other slowed down, so I decided to force the pace. At 25k, I realised I could win".
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