Athletics: Yamauchi races into World Championship marathon squad

Mara Yamauchi received her reward for the second outstanding performance inside a month yesterday as she was named alongside Paula Radcliffe in the five-strong women's marathon squad for this summer's World Championships.

Mara Yamauchi received her reward for the second outstanding performance inside a month yesterday as she was named alongside Paula Radcliffe in the five-strong women's marathon squad for this summer's World Championships.

The 31-year-old former Oxford University student, who won the 1997 National cross-country title under her maiden name of Mara Myers, took more than eight minutes off her personal best in Sunday's London Marathon to finish 10th in 2hr 31min 52sec.

While Radcliffe, who improved her own women-only race world best, is maintaining the option of switching to the 10,000 metres in Helsinki, Yamauchi will have no such dilemma in a season where her career is also reaching new heights.

Last month the woman who spent the years between 1998 and 2003 working as a Foreign Office diplomat in the Far East was drafted into the team for the World Cross-Country Championships when Radcliffe withdrew to concentrate on her London preparation. Yamauchi was the first Briton home in the women's long course race, taking 27th place overall.

City of Glasgow's Hayley Haining returned from a series of injuries to finish 12th in the London Marathon with Debbie Mason, of Tipton Harriers, and Radcliffe's Bedford team-mate Liz Yelling the next two runners across the line.

Tracey Morris, 29th at the Athens Olympics but forced to withdraw from this year's London race because of injury, was nominated as a reserve.

Jon Brown, who finished sixth on Sunday in a personal best of 2hr 9min 31sec, will lead a team which also includes Huw Lobb and Dan Robinson.

Another of Britain's leading athletes of recent years, the triple jumper Ashia Hansen, has ruled herself out of the World Championships because she is still recovering from the ruptured patella tendon she suffered in last year's European Cup.

"At the moment I'm rehabbing. I've only just started running, so by June or July I hope to be in full training," said Hansen, whose next goal is a defence of her Commonwealth title at Melbourne next March.

"Hopefully, my rehabilitation and training will prepare me well for Melbourne and I can avoid any hiccups," she said.

"I don't really feel like one of the old guys - it's good that we've got a lot of youngsters in the team.

"We need these youngsters to come through to take over from people like myself and Jonathan Edwards. I'm prepared for when someone comes through and eventually fills my place."

Catherine Ndereba, the Olympic marathon silver medallist, made up over a minute in the second half of the Boston Marathon on Monday to win the title for the fourth time in 2hr 25min 13sec. Elfenesh Alemu finished the race in second place in 2:27:03 with Italy's Bruna Genovese third in 2:29:51.

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