Marathon running for women is a very popular sport in Japan, and two Japanese women had won world titles in the marathon prior to 2000. But no Japanese woman had won the Olympic marathon title - or even any Olympic track and field title. That was changed by Naoko Takahashi. After competing in the 5,000 m at the 1997 World Championships, she switched to the marathon, a successful move. In 1998, she won her first marathon (in Nagoya), and later that year she emerged victorious at the Asian Games in Bangkok, winning by a huge, 13-minute margin. She was favoured for a medal at the 1999 World Championship, but a knee injury prevented participation. The following year in Sydney, Takahashi won her second international title, beating Lidia Şimon by a mere 8 seconds to win the Olympic gold medal. In 2001, she bettered the world record in Berlin, becoming the first woman to complete a marathon in less than 2 hours 20 minutes. While she would go on to win a total of seven marathons (Nagoya (twice), Berlin (twice), Tokyo, Sydney and Bangkok), she never ran another international championships due to injuries. She retired in October 2008.
Personal Best: Mar – 2-19:46 (2001).
Athlete Olympic Results Content
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