Athens marathon champion Noguchi to return next month

TOKYO: Japan`s 2004 Olympic champion Mizuki Noguchi will run her first marathon in more than four years in Nagoya next month in her bid to race at this year`s London Games.

The 33-year-old, who blazed to the gold medal in Athens almost eight years ago, will run in the Nagoya Women`s Marathon on March 11, organisers said on Wednesday.

The race will be the last of three domestic qualifiers in what is expected to be a dogfight to make it onto Japan`s team for London.

Noguchi pulled out of last month`s Osaka International Women`s Marathon with a hamstring problem.

She has been plagued by injuries since her sensational dash for gold in Athens and was unable to defend her Olympic title in Beijing in 2008.

Noguchi has been stepping up her preparation for London with punishing high altitude training in Colorado.

Bureau Report