World Champs, Day 9-Ndereba takes gold in marathon, Japan gets first medal!

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Catherine Ndereba of Kenya added gold to her medals, and was on the top of the medal stand at the Worlds for the first time since Helsinki...Chunxiu Zhou of China took the silver and Japan got their first medal, as 450,000 Japanese waved a flag from the newspaper sponsor, willing Reiko Tosa on....

You know the marathon is hot when Catherine Ndereba, who has won more races than most marathoners have even run speaks of the heat.

The pack went on and on, for 39.6 kilometers. The marathon had been a war of attrtition today. Lidia Simon of Romania had dropped off, Kiyoko Shimihara of Japan, Rita Jeptoo Siteienei of Kenya, Edith Masia of Kenya, Mara Yamauchi of Great Britian had all dropped back after 35 kilometers.

Catherine Ndereba of Kenya, Chunxiu Zhou of China, this year's London winner, Reiko Tosa of Japan and Xiaolin Zhu of China were the final contenders. About 39.6 kilometers Reiko Tosa fell back, as Ndereba and Zhou moved to the higher gear.

Showing the true grittiness of the Japanese marathoners, with all of the country willing her on, Reiko Tosa went by Xiaolin Zhu of China at 40k like she was standing still and moved on to protect her bronze medal.

Catherine Ndereba is the most bemedaled women marathoner of her generation. Consider this for a moment: four BAA Boston Marathons, two LSB Chicago marathons, two second places at ING New York and Flora London, gold or silver in last two World Champs and last two Olympics-that is a pedigree.

But, it took all of Ndereba's talent and drive to push to the gold here, where her separation from Chunxiu Zhou was twelve seconds!

Catherine Ndereba took the Osaka World Champs gold with a time of 2:30.37, with Chunxiu Zhou of China in second in 2:30.55 and Reiko Tosa of Japan in 2:30.55.

It is appropriate, in a weird sort of way, that the first Japanese medal is in the women's marathon. The Japanese came close in the men's 4 x 100 meter relay, and close in the men's marathon, but Reiko Tosa delivered.

Japanese television had hyped the marathon all week long, on TBS. The crowd on the course, five people deep, was estimated at 450,000!

U.S. women all finished. Ann Alyanak finished 31rst in 2:42.23, Zolia Gomez was 35th in 2:44.49, Dana Coons was 38th in 2:46.12, Mary Akor was 42nd in 2:47.06 and Samia Akbar was 49th in 2:56.27.

For complete marathon results: http://osaka2007.iaaf.org/results/gender=W/discipline=MAR/combCode=hash/roundCode=f/result.html

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