TOKYO, Nov 21 (AFP) - Unheralded Bruna Genovese of Italy overhauled the pre-race favourites in the last two kilometres (mile) to capture her first victory at the Tokyo international women’s marathon on Sunday.
Genovese, 28, snatched the lead by overtaking defending champion Elfenesh Alemu of Ethiopia and world bronze medallist Masako Chiba of Japan at the 40.7km mark before crossing the finishing line in two hours 26 minutes 34 seconds.
Japan’s Kiyoko Shimahara also outran the two favourites to finish second in 2:26:43, followed by Alemu in 2:26:58 and Chiba in 2:27:02.
Asia’s fastest time-holder Sun Yingjie of China, also the third-fastest female marathon runner of all-time, slipped from the front-running group at 27km to finish a disappointing sixth in 2:29:24.
In the first 10 kilometres, I couldn't join the top group and had to run with the second and third groups, but I was able to put the second group behind at around 31 kilometres,'' said a jubilant Genovese. At shortly before the 31km mark, I saw three runners ahead of me and another beyond them. That was when I tried to move into top gear,’’ added the Italian, who was third in 2001 and fourth last year here.
After two pace-setters, Alina Ivanova of Russia and Restituta Joseph of Tanzania, abandoned the race at the 15km and half points, Alemu and Chiba set the pace leaving Sun behind at 27km and Gete Wami of Ethiopia at 30km.
The two women ran shoulder-to-shoulder for the rest of the race and Alemu spurted for the lead shortly after the 39km mark, only to see Genovese strongly go ahead of her at the last part of the five-kilometre uphill road.
For Shimahara, it was her personal best time, but she failed to clear the Japanese qualifying time for the world championships next year in Helsinki.
``I was surprised when I saw her (Chiba) just in front of me. I had expected her to run far ahead. I just tried to run my best and finish the race. I can not believe it,’’ said Shimahara, who took over Chiba after returning to the National Stadium.