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Moving moment when 19-year-old Japanese athlete struggled to end marathon race

Tokyo, Thursday @PeopleSports11

Footage of a heart-breaking moment 19-year-old runner Rei Iida fell, fracturing her leg towards the end of her 2.2 mile stretch of a 26-mile relay marathon has gone viral.

Instead of admitting defeat, and with a die-hard attitude runners everywhere will be in awe of, Iida crawled the final 700 feet of her section of the race. Iida is a university student and was competing for the Iwatani Sangyo corporate “ekiden” relay marathon team in Sunday’s race.

Iida tripped and fell, fracturing her right leg towards the end of her stretch and footage aired on Japanese television shows her crawling along the white road markings, leaving streaks of blood from her injured hands and knees.

Her team-mate, clearly moved by her perseverance, can be seen crying as she waited for her to crawl across the line and pass her the sash.

Tetsuhiko Kin, a sports commentator who has previously taken part in the race, spoke about the enormous mental pressure runners are under as part of the relay team, saying: “she seemed driven to somehow arrive at the relay point, which she could see [when she fell].”

Despite her insistence on finishing her leg, race organisers have been criticised for not stopping Iida, who was clearly in pain. Officials were not immediately able to contact the head judge of the event and by the time the message was passed on, Iida was close to crossing the line.

The head judge has been quoted as saying: “I struggled to decide whether I should stop her, but I felt she could do it as she was almost at her goal”.

Iida apparently refused to stop as the judge approached, asking “how many metres are left until my goal?” On hearing that Iida had fallen and been injured, the manager of her team decided to pull the team out of the competition.

Iida was taken to hospital after crossing the line and has suffered a fracture of her leg which will take four months to heal. She has since apologised to her team manager for her performance. What a hero. – AGENCIES

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