Daichi Kamino on his way to winning the Asian Marathon Championships (© Mamiko)
Japan’s Daichi Kamino capitalised on a late-race blunder by Ri Kang Bom of the People’s Republic of Korea to win the Asian Marathon Championships in Dongguan on Sunday (22).
Ri, who had set a personal best of 2:11:19 when winning in Pyongyang earlier this year, built up a comfortable lead in the closing stages. With 2:09 on the clock and just a few minutes of running left, Ri was about 100 metres ahead of his Japanese rival and looked to be the first man from his nation to win the Asian marathon title since 1985.
But the 26-year-old went the wrong way as he negotiated the final corner. With just half a minute of running left and the finish line in sight, Kamino dug deep and started striding for home. Ri, having realised his mistake, got back on course but his lead had shrunk to just a few metres.
Kamino’s momentum carried him past Ri with just 40 metres to go and he punched the air as he crossed the line, finishing in 2:12:18. Ri followed three seconds later, clocking 2:12:21. Japan’s Ryoichi Matsuo was further back in third, clocking 2:14:32.
Kamino, who is known in Japan as ‘God of the mountains’ for his heroics on hilly stages of ekiden races, was contesting his first marathon since the Marathon Grand Championships, Japan’s Olympic trial race in September. He finished 17th there, having been among the leaders up until 15km, and was a few minutes shy of his season’s best of 2:11:05 and PB of 2:10:18.
“After the Marathon Grand Championships, I felt depressed,” said the 26-year-old. “But I was glad I did my best here and didn’t give up.”
The medal order was reversed in the women’s race with Ri Kwang Ok and Kim Ji Hyang of the People’s Republic of Korea taking gold and bronze, either side of Japan’s Mao Uesugi.
Ri had also won in Pyongyang earlier this year in a PB of 2:26:58 before going on to finish 14th at the World Championships in Doha. She won comfortably in Dongguan, clocking 2:30:56 to finish one minute and one second ahead of Uesugi. Kim was third in 2:32:10.
It was the fourth edition in succession in which an athlete from the People’s Republic of Korea had won the women’s title.