Risa Shigetomo takes a surprise victory in Osaka (© Kazuo Tanaka/Agence SHOT)
Past Osaka Women’s Marathon winners Risa Shigetomo and Kayoko Fukushi will return to the IAAF Silver Label Road Race on 31 January with Olympic qualification on their mind.
The Osaka Women’s Marathon is one of four selection races outlined by the Japanese federation, along with the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015 marathon, the Saitama Marathon and the forth-coming Nagoya Marathon.
A performance of 2:22:30 will preferentially be picked for the team for Rio, joining Mai Ito who guaranteed her spot on the team with a top-eight finish in Beijing earlier this year.
Shigetomo won in Osaka in 2012, setting a PB of 2:23:23. She finished second in 2015 before going on to finish 14th at the World Championships.
Fukushi was retroactively named the winner of the 2013 Osaka race following the ban of Tetiana Shmyrko. She set her PB of 2:24:21 on that occasion and then went on to take the bronze medal in the event at that year’s World Championships.
More recently, she came within four seconds of her PB to finish fourth at the Chicago Marathon two months ago.
Veteran Mari Ozaki set her PB of 2:23:30 when making her marathon debut in Osaka in 2003. Ozaki is now 40 but is still competitive; she finished sixth in 2015 and third in 2013.
Yuko Watanabe also set her PB in Osaka, clocking 2:25:56 to finish second in 2013. She made it on to the podium again in 2015, finishing third.
Misaki Kato is one of six elite Japanese women making marathon debut in Osaka. Kato finished second in the half marathon in Osaka last year in a PB of 1:09:49.
Ethiopia’s Atsede Habtamu is the fastest of the non-domestic entries. Winner of the 2012 Tokyo Marathon and 2009 Berlin Marathon, Habtamu has a PB of 2:24:25.
World half-marathon bronze medallist Selly Chepyego will be contesting her second marathon to date. In her debut earlier this year, she finished a respectable fourth in Tokyo in 2:26:43.
Karolina Nadolska, the Polish record-holder for 10,000m and the half marathon, is also entered. She finished second in Osaka in 2014 with a PB of 2:26:31.
Ethiopia's 2009 world 10,000m silver medallist Meselech Melkamu and 2013 world 10,000m bronze medallist Belaynesh Oljira will be among the pace makers.
Elite field (with PBs)
Risa Shigetomo (JPN) 2:23:23
Mari Ozaki (JPN) 2:23:30
Kayoko Fukushi (JPN) 2:24:21
Atsede Habtamu (ETH) 2:24:25
Yuko Watanabe (JPN) 2:25:56
Karolina Nadolska (POL) 2:26:31
Selly Kaptich Chepyego (KEN) 2:26:43
Kim Seong Eun (KOR) 2:27:20
Beatrice Toroitich (KEN) 2:27:41
Misato Horie (JPN) 2:27:57
Diana Lobacevske (LTU) 2:28:03
Risa Takenaka (JPN) 2:28:09
Chieko Kido (JPN) 2:29:08
Misaki Kato (JPN) debut
Sakurako Fukuchi (JPN) debut
Aiko Sakata (JPN) debut
Mai Nagaoka (JPN) debut
Saki Tokoro (JPN) debut
Eri Utsunomiya (JPN) debut