Previews26 Jan 2024

Course record-holder Matsuda takes on Edesa and Chesang in Osaka


Mizuki Matsuda breaks the race record to win the 2022 Osaka Women’s Marathon (© Agence SHOT / Ryosuke Kikuchi)

Mizuki Matsuda is aiming to become the first four-time winner at the Osaka Women’s Marathon, but the Japanese runner will face stiff opposition at the World Athletics Platinum Label road race on Sunday (28).

Matsuda is one of three women to have won in Osaka three times, her latest victory coming just two years ago in a PB and course record of 2:20:52. Her last race was five months ago at the World Championships in Budapest, where she finished 13th.

She didn’t compete at the Marathon Grand Championships in October, Japan’s main selection race for the Olympic Games. But the top-placed Japanese runner in Osaka could potentially bump off the provisional third team member, Ai Hosoda, if they run faster than 2:21:42 – Hosoda’s best clocking within the qualifying window. The Nagoya Marathon in March will be the final opportunity for Japanese runners to claim an Olympic berth.

Matsuda’s motivation will be high, but she’ll face three formidable opponents from overseas.

Workenesh Edesa is the fastest in the field, boasting a PB of 2:18:51 from the 2022 Berlin Marathon. She has finished on the podium in 10 of her 15 career marathons, and she has bettered 2:21 in her past four races over the classic distance. Last year she won in Prague, then went on to clock 2:19:40 in Berlin.

Uganda’s Stella Chesang could be something of an underdog. The 2018 Commonwealth 10,000m champion has only contested one marathon to date, but she clocked a national record of 2:20:23 to finish third in Hamburg.

Edesa’s fellow Ethiopian Meseret Gola will also be highly motivated on Sunday, having finished second last year. In fact, she has finished runner-up in six of her 10 most recent marathons – including at the 2022 Seville Marathon, where she set her PB of 2:20:50 – so will be keen to claim the top spot of the podium.

Matsuda won’t be the only Japanese runner vying for a last-minute call-up to the Olympic team. Sayaka Sato represented Japan at last year’s World Championships in Budapest, following a 2:22:13 PB run in Berlin in 2022. Honami Maeda won the Marathon Grand Championships ahead of the Tokyo Olympics but finished seventh at the latest edition in October. Natsumi Matsushita, meanwhile, finished fifth in that race and will be hopeful of showing improved form on Sunday.

Leading elite entries

Workenesh Edesa (ETH) 2:18:51
Stella Chesang (UGA) 2:20:23
Sisay Meseret Gola (ETH) 2:20:50
Mizuki Matsuda (JPN) 2:20:52
Sayaka Sato (JPN) 2:22:13
Honami Maeda (JPN) 2:22:32
Natsumi Matsushita (JPN) 2:23:05
Rie Kawauchi (JPN) 2:25:35
Ayano Ikemitsu (JPN) 2:26:07
Yuna Daito (JPN) 2:26:09
Daeun Jeong (KOR) 2:28:32
Kaena Takeyama (JPN) 2:29:20
Militsa Mircheva (BUL) 2:29:23

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