Athletics: Japan's Shigetomo wins Osaka marathon

OSAKA, Japan - Japan produced a new Olympic hopeful on Sunday when Risa Shigetomo won the Osaka international women's marathon in only her second such event.

The 24-year-old secured victory after a strong showing in the final 15 kilometres, crossing the finishing line in two hours 23 minutes and 23 seconds.

Shigetomo, who was happy to follow the early pace-setters before moving up a gear and creating a clear lead, said afterwards: "It's been my dream to compete in the Olympics."

"I hope I can make this victory a good stepping-stone to the London Olympics. When I ran my first marathon in London last year, I couldn't run at my own pace, so I'm glad I did today.

"Pace-setters made the early rhythm and I just tried to follow them."

Yuko Shimizu of Japan, the early pace-setter, abandoned the race after 22km, leaving Shigetomo and compatriot Kayoko Fukushi out front.

After 27km Shigetomo broke away as Fukushi fell back to finish ninth with a time of 2:37:35.

Tetiana Gamera-Shmyrko of Ukraine finished second in 2:24:46, followed by Japan's Azusa Nojiri in third with 2:24:57.

Beijing Olympic gold medallist Constantina Dita of Romania finished at a lowly 11th with 2:40.08.