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Monday, 16 October, 2000, 14:27 GMT 15:27 UK
Hornet juice key to Olympic gold
Ms Takahashi celebrates victory
Ms Takahashi celebrates a first for Japan
Olympic marathon champion Naoko Takahashi drank the stomach juices of giant killer hornets to give her performance an extra buzz, it has emerged.

Ms Takahashi of Japan took the unusual beverage before and during the race after scientists found it boosted human stamina.

The marathon runner has reportedly said the juice was "a crucial factor'' in helping her win gold at last month's Sydney games.

Reports on Monday said that the drink, which is 100% natural, did not fall foul of Olympic laws against performance-enhancing drugs.

Naoko Takahashi
Marathon woman: Hornet juice helped her fly

The hornets, which measure up to 7.6cm, fly the equivalent of two marathons in a day at 32kph looking for food for their young.

Japanese scientists at the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research near Tokyo have been investigating what gives them the energy to cover such distances.

Endurance

Researchers say they believe an acidic juice in their stomachs helps the hornets convert fat into energy and reduce muscle fatigue.

Reports said experiments carried out on mice fed with the juice found they were able to run for twice as long and twice as fast as mice fed on normal diets.

A Japanese firm has reproduced the raw juice and is now marketing it as an energy drink, according to Reuters news agency.

Ms Takahashi, who finished with a time of two hours 23 minutes, was the first Japanese woman to win an Olympic gold in athletics.

The government has said it is planning to present her with its rare People's Honour Award.

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See also:

08 May 00 | Sport
Olympics drugs threat
26 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
Australian scientist charged over steroids
13 Jan 00 | Europe
New body tackles drugs in sport
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