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Yoko Shibui will start as favourite in Sunday

There have been four world records set on the super-fast Berlin course in the last six years

2004-09-23

Sunday’s real,- BERLIN-MARATHON favourite, Yoko Shibui believes it will take five years to get close to Paula Radcliffe’s world record. Shibui, who ran her own best when finishing third behind Radcliffe’s previous world record in Chicago 2002 is in Berlin with another target – the course record, also the first women’s sub 2hr 20min that her colleague, Sydney Olympic winner, Naoko Takahashi ran here in 2001.

Radcliffe’s record of 2.15.25, set in London 2002 is just about the only thing that the Japanese women don’t possess in the marathon world. Because yet another Japanese, Mizuki Noguchi broke Radcliffe’s heart by winning the Athens Olympic marathon five weeks ago.

And it looks like Japanese women all the way in Sunday’s race. Leading German, European bronze medallist, Sonja Oberem says of Shibui and colleague, Hiromi Ominami, “the first two places are taken”. After that, it’s just a matter of time.

“According to my training, I should be able to run a fast time,” said Shibui on Thursday. “It would take me five years to beat Radcliffe’s time, but I might beat Takashi’s record on Sunday”.

There have been four world records set on the super-fast Berlin course in the last six years. The pick of them was Takahashi’s ground-breaking 2.19.46, until Paul Tergat of Kenya took the men’s record down to 2.04.55 last year.

But Shibui has a point to prove. Despite a best of 2.21.22 in Chicago almost two years ago, she was passed over for Olympic selection by the Japanese federation. Her coach, Hideo Suzuki says the 25 year old chose Berlin rather than go back to Chicago, in order to attack Takahashi’s national record.

“The big motivation for Shibui to run here is the possibility of fast times in contrast to Chicago. She’s still too young to be thinking about 2.15, but the course record is possible”.


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