Athletics

Japanese clerk calls work for day off after winning Boston Marathon

Japan yesterday hailed school clerk Yuki Kawauchi, the surprise winner of the Boston Marathon, who called work after his victory to ask for an extra day off to celebrate.

When Kawauchi ploughed across the finish line yesterday morning (Singapore time), despite the coldest start in 30 years and steady rain, he became the first Japanese to win the race since 1987 - the year he was born.

He finished the 42.1 km course in 2hr 15min 58sec.

Kawauchi, who has no coach and no sponsor and trains in his free time, has been hailed across Japan for the shock triumph.

Toshihiko Seko, the Japanese runner who won the race in 1987 and 1981, told national broadcaster NHK: "In the horrible conditions that everyone hates, Kawauchi managed to maintain the toughest spirit, more than anyone else."

At the Kuki High School in Saitama, where Kawauchi works, officials said he had been in touch - to ask for an extra day off to attend functions.

Apparently not expecting his win, he had planned to fly back to Japan after the race and resume work today.

A tearful Kawauchi, who has racked up five straight marathon wins with his latest victory, said after winning: "I want to show that you can compete at the world level even if you have a job like I do.

"This is the greatest day of my life. No one thought that I could win."

Kawauchi was recognised just last month by the Guinness World Records for clocking the most marathon runs in under two hours and 20 minutes - 78 in all.

He doesn't intend to take a break and is already planning a half-marathon in the Japanese city of Gifu this weekend. - AFP

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