CRASH, BANG, WALLOP!!!
If Olympic champion Naoko Takahashi does not break the marathon world best in Berlin on Sunday, there are going to be a lot of disappointed comic book readers in Japan next week
2001-09-27Japans first female Olympic marathon champion - with her two hours, 23 minutes, 14 seconds victory in Syndey last year - Takahashi also became the first athlete to take advantage of a relaxation in rules governing sports advertising in Japan, and signed up to become a comic book hero. For the last four months, the 29 year old Takahashi has been the subject of a comic strip entitled Kazekko, or Daughter of the Wind, in a magazine which sells 700,000 copies a week. There is however, a minor problem. In the edition on sale today (Thursday), there is a frame with her passing through the Brandenburg Gate, and winning in a worlds best time. "Its a bit embarassing," she said at yesterdays press conference. "I hope for a world best, but there are so many factors involved, Ill just say I want to do two hours something, but I won say what". It will not be for want of preparation if she does not break Tegla Loroupes time of 2.20.43, set on this same course two years ago. Despite becoming an overnight sensation in celebrity-obsessed Japan, she has not let that get in the way of her training. She has spent several months at altitude in Colorado, as she did before her Sydney victory. She has not raced a marathon since the Olympics, and she and her coach, Yoshio Koide travelled to Berlin to examine the course before deciding between the German capital and next weeks Chicago race which has a similarly easy course. "The other marathons Ive run have either been in hot conditions or on difficult courses," said Takahashi, "this is flat, and the fact that Loroupe set the world best means its fast. Also, having won the Olympics, I don feel under so much pressure. That was last years goal, Berlin is this years". Of course, Loroupe, who arrives tomorrow (Friday) may have other ideas.
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