Yoko Shibui is a female professional long distance runner who was born in Tochigi Prefecture in Japan on 14th March 1979. She attended the Nasutakuyo High School in Japan. She is well known for running marathons, 5,000 and 10,000 metre races.
Her first notable performance was in the Osaka Marathon in Japan in 2001. She finished first with an impressive time of 2:23:11. In the same year she entered into the World Championships in Edmonton in Canada, which was another full marathon, where she managed to achieve 4th place with a time of 2:26:33.
Her next major achievement was in 2002 in Chicago in the US when she competed in the Chicago Marathon coming 3rd, and finishing in 2:21:22. The 2003 World Championships in Paris was not much of a success when she finished 14th in the 10,000 metre race. But in 2004 she was back on form when she entered in the Berlin Marathon in Germany. Her time of 2:19:41 put her straight into first place. This time was her personal best. Also in 2004 she ran the Osaka International Women’s Marathon but only took 9th place.
The following year she finished in 10th place in the selection race for the Osaka World Track and Field Championships. The unlucky strike continued on throughout the year when she ran in the 2007 Tokyo International Women’s Marathon, where many spectators were very excited about her running against rival Mizuki Noguchi.
But just before she hit the 30 kilometre mark she started to lag behind and ended up finishing in 7th place. She did also compete in the Nagoya Marathon, which was one of the trial runs to enter into the Helsinki World Championships, and she came 7th finishing in 2:27 hours.
2008 was another unsuccessful year with an entry into the Beijing Olympics. Before hand it was well reported that she was very hopeful to win, when she said to a Japanese Running News team: “I’m hungry to win these days. This year especially I’ve found myself always thinking, I want to win I want to win!”. She ran the 10,000 metre race and came 17th.
Over a hundred of her friends, family and colleagues were there in Beijing to support her and many people were very hopeful, but it just was not meant to be. But after some hard work and training she managed to pull it back again in 2009 at the San Francisco Marathon in the US, where she came first and ran it in 2:46:34.
In 2009, Shibui ran a 30 kilometre race in Osaka where she finished in 1:43:56, and another marathon in Osaka in the same year finishing in 2:23:42. Shibui’s training has been extremely varied and rigorous, including a downhill cross country run which was thought to help her improve her leg turnover. Her achievements have landed her the title of 7th fastest female marathon runner of all time. Her coach is Hideo Suzuki and she belongs to the Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo club.
At the 2011 Tokyo Marathon she was in a leading position with only two kilometres to go but slowed to relinquish her lead, ending up in fourth place. She tried to gain a place on the 2012 Olympic marathon team, but her fourth place finish at the 2012 Nagoya Women's Marathon was not enough for selection.
- 2009 San Francisco Marathon – 1st
- Osaka Ladies Marathon – 1st (2001,2009)
- 2004 Berlin Marathon – 1st