LONDON 2012: Yamauchi keeping cautious in Olympic build-up
MARA Yamauchi admits her running career is on its last legs - although an Olympic gold medal might make her push on a little further
BELIEF: Mara Yamauchi has battled a succession of injuries in the last three years and is looking ahead to the London 2012 Olympic marathon with cautious optimism (Getty Images)
Yamauchi will be just a few days short of her 39th birthday when she lines up alongside fellow thirty something Paula Radcliffe and rising star Claire Hallisey in the Olympic marathon.
Constantina Dita won gold in Beijing at 37 but Yamauchi, second in the 2009 London Marathon, has spent the last three years battling a succession of injuries from problems with her foot to a torn adductor and two separate heel bruises.
But she credits UKA coach Dan Pfaff - who identified injury prevention as the biggest challenge facing Britain's top athletes in the run-up to the Games when he arrived from the USA three years ago - for his role in getting her back to full fitness.
“When I had the hamstring injury I felt I wouldn’t manage to get back to a condition where I could qualify for the marathon,” she said.
“So I asked Dan to help me and he just looks at my running form. I see him once or twice a week, he watches me run and says ‘that muscle is not firing or this muscle is tight’, so he keeps everything nice and smooth so the injuries don’t build up.
“I’m just going to prepare myself for the Olympics the best way I can, hope I don’t get any injuries, prepare for any weather and just do my best on the day.
“I really don't know about the future but if I win the gold medal it will be tempting to carry on. That’s not very likely but you never know."
Yamauchi is keeping her schedule simple in the build-up to the Games but was happy with her victory in the Bupa London 10,000, held over the central London Olympic marathon course.
She clocked 32:52 minutes to finish ahead of Welsh athlete Caryl Mair and Scot Freya Murray, is coming back to top-form after a five-month rehab from a serious hamstring injury last year.
While London could be one of Yamauchi's last marathons, British team-mate Scott Overall is still adjusting to the step up in distance.
Overall made a stunning debut over the distance when he clocked the Olympic qualifying standard when finishing fifth in a high-class Berlin Marathon field last year.
The Olympics will be only his second marathon, he was a pacemaker a few weeks ago in London, and he tuned up with a third place behind Mo Farah and Japan’s Arata Fujiwara over 10,000m.
However, after only flying into the UK from his Arizona training base 48 hours earlier, Overall is satisfied everything is on track but admits he's still getting used to putting in the miles.
“I can’t say the training is always easy, a few times I dropped out of sessions and it does make you very tired," he admitted.
“I wasn’t surprised I ran a qualifying time, I was surprised about how it felt, I was over a minute under it, I felt pretty relaxed so I can definitely run quicker.
“In Berlin, I was waiting for my body to start hurting but it wasn’t until the last five kilometres that I started to feel it, but then I was so close to the finish line that it didn’t matter.
“The Olympic marathon will very tactical, I just want to put myself in a good position and see how it goes."
© Sportsbeat 2012