INCHEON, Sept. 18 (Yonhap) -- A set of North Korean twins will participate in the women's marathon at the upcoming Asian Games in South Korea, hoping to pull off another surprise after a successful world championship race last year.
Kim Hye-song and Kim Hye-gyong, both 21 years old, will represent the communist state in the women's marathon, slated for Oct. 2. The two raced at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships in Moscow, where Hye-gyong finished eighth in 2:35:49 and Hye-song came in 14th in 2:38:28.
A third North Korean runner, Sin Yong-sun, finished in 17th in 2:39:22. North Korea had the best combined time of its three runners, faster than such marathon powerhouses as Kenya and Ethiopia.
According to the North Korean news reports, the twins started running marathon six years ago. They won the national youth titles within three months, the reports claim.
This year, Hye-gyong's fastest time is 2:27:05, and Hye-song's season-best is 2:27:58, both marked improvements from their world championships performances.
Japan will be represented by two of Asia's best: Ryoko Kizaki and Eri Hayakawa.
They have posted the two fastest times by Asian runners this year: Kizaki at 2:25:26 and Hayakawa at 2:25:31.
An official from the Korean Association of Athletics Federations predicted that the North Koreans and the Japanese will be neck-and-neck in Incheon, and noted the North Korean athletes' mental strength.
South Korea will try to counter with Kim Seong-eun, the nation's fastest marathoner this year at 2:29:31.