14 FEB 1999 General News

Thys runs second best marathon in Tokyo

Thys wins Tokyo marathon in world second best time

Tokyo, Feb 14 (AFP) - South Africa's Sydney Olympic hopeful Gert Thys beat his own personal best by more than one minute for an easy victory in the Tokyo international men's marathon on Sunday.

The 27-year-old Thys, who spurted around the 30-kilometre mark in a second group and then overtook front-runner Kenichi Takahashi of Japan, made a long solo run afterwards to clock 2:06:33. It was the second fastest time in the world, following Ronaldo da Costa of Brazil who timed the fastest time of 2:06:05 in Berlin in September last season.

Thys, already named to represent South Africa for the world championships in August, was only 11 seconds behind Costa's split time when he passed the 40km mark.

"I'm very happy to run in a fast time today. That's my best time. I was very worried when he (Takahashi) was more than two minutes in front of us," said the 27-year-old runner from Prieska. "Around the 25km point, I told one of my team mates who was leading in front of us 'That guy is running away, we have to close the gap.'

"When I closed the gap, I didn't want to push too fast, because I know there's a hill ahead of us, so I tried to maintain the same pace." Otherwise, the hill will be a lot of problem for me," added Thys.

Takahashi set the pace from early on breaking away from a front group after the 7km mark, but he then developed problems in his right foot shortly after Thys and other runners passed him and abandoned around the 33km mark.

Miki Hiroshi finished second in 2:08:05, followed by fellow Japanese Koji Shimizu in 2:09:00, and Luis Dos Santos of Brazil fourth in 2:11:13.