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3 Sep 2007

Wales' Tracey Morris finished a creditable 19th in the punishing women’s marathon at the World Championships in Osaka yesterday.


Morris, after knee surgery and other injury problems blighted her preparation earlier this year, completed the race in a time of two hours 36min 40secs.

"I tried to put it all into this one day," said Morris, who emerged to stardom four years ago at the London Marathon when clinching an Olympic place as the first Briton across the line in the trial race.

Morris, who suffered a fall and damaged her right knee training in Macau three weeks ago, set off at her own planned pace, but although running alone for much of the race she comfortably completed the tough course.

Her Great Britain team-mate, Mara Yamauchi, gallantly broke up the field before yielding to the gruelling heat and pace of the race to finish ninth.

Yamauchi then almost immediately suffered for the effort and could only watch and plough on as Catherine Ndereba triumphantly regained the title she won four years ago in Paris, clocking a time of two hours 30mins 37secs.

Kenya’s former world record holder, beaten for the gold medal in 2005 by Paula Radcliffe in Helsinki, blunted the challenge of world leader Chunxiu Zhou with a breakaway two kilometres from home.

The Chinese winner of the London Marathon in April posted a time of two hours 30min 45secs, with Japan’s Reiko Tosa third in two hours 30min 55secs.

Yamauchi, improving nine places on her finish in Helsinki, clocked a time of two hours 32mins 55secs and was a contender until the 32km point.

There the 34-year-old Japan-based athlete paid the penalty for reducing the field from 20 to nine, being largely responsible for inserting a 17min 40secs split between 25km and 30km.

Yamauchi paid for that decision when her remaining rivals, Ndereba and Zhou, stepped up the pace until the closing stages, content to let others do the work.

"The men’s race was decided right at the end so I thought I had to keep something in reserve," said Yamauchi, a former foreign office diplomat living in Tokyo with husband Shige.

Yamauchi however, deciding to change tactics, said, "I thought, ‘this is my big chance so I’ve got to try’. But I died a bit after that.

"It didn’t hurt that much, but before I knew it there was a tiny gap. I didn’t panic and thought I could get back on the group. It didn’t get bigger for quite a while.

"I felt people would come back to me and kept telling myself, ‘Don’t settle for ninth. They might come back to me over the next 10km’.

"I tried to stay strong to the end, but the gap was becoming bigger."

Taken from the Western Mail