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Japan's Takahashi stays the coolest

Heat, humidity are no problem as she wins with Olympic record time.

By Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 24, 2000

SYDNEY, Australia -- Naoko Takahashi, running alone for the last five miles on a warm, humid day, broke the finish-line tape and raised her arms in triumph. Then she bowed to the crowd.

Takahashi, overcoming 91 percent humidity, won gold in an Olympic-best 2 hours, 23 minutes, 14 seconds. Lidia Simon of Romania won the silver in 2:23.22, and Joyce Chepchumba of Kenya won the bronze.

Chepchumba didn't want to stop. She crossed the finish line and kept running, apparently thinking she had not completed the race. Officials told her to stop, and she stood on the track for several seconds, hands on her hips, looking confused.

Takahashi, the first Japanese woman to win the event, took a victory lap waving a tiny Japanese flag. She bettered the Olympic record of 2:24.52, set by Joan Benoit in the inaugural women's race at the 1984 Los Angeles Games.

Takahashi, 28, burst onto the international scene in 1998 when she won the Asian Games in 2:21.47, then the fifth-fastest time for a woman.

Japanese flags greeted her along much of the course, which crossed the Harbor Bridge and wound through the streets of Sydney before heading into the suburbs and the Olympic Stadium.

The race began in 57 degrees and ended in 70.

Marleen Renders of Belgium, a world-class 10,000-meter runner, broke out early, but the pack shadowed her before hauling her in after about 71/2 miles. Takahashi made the first serious move just after an hour's racing, injecting an acceleration that whittled the leading group of around 20 to eight, then to five, then three -- herself, Simon and Ari Ichihashi of Japan.

Ethiopian Fatuma Roba, the 1996 Olympic champion, dropped off, as did Kenyan world record holder Tegla Loroupe. Roba finished ninth in 2:27.38. Loroupe, who set the world best of 2:20.43 in the Berlin Marathon last year, was 13th in 2:29.45.

Takahashi broke from the pack with about five miles remaining.

Christine Clark of the United States finished 19th in 2:31.35, a personal best by nearly two minutes. She was the only U.S. entrant.

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On The Wire

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  • Marion can save the Games
  • Fast facts: swimming
  • Olympics highlights
  • Chilly dipper earns his salt Down Under
  • Japan's Takahashi stays the coolest
  • Greene makes fast work of gold in the 100
  • Fast facts: women's track and field
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  • For 2002, NBC says less is more
  • Olympics notes

  • From the wire

  • Jason Williams Set for NCAA Postseason