The women’s marathon in Yokohama (Japan) last Sunday effectively wrapped up the first ’round’ of the contest between female hopefuls for places on the British team in the event, save some remarkable last-gasp turn, so the time has come for UK Athletics head coach Charles van Commenne to take stock and make up his mind on the line to follow in view of the first meeting of the selection panel concerned on Monday 5 December.

The Dutchman may have stirred plenty of controversy over certain issues over the last months, in particular a considerable part of the funding lists make-up, but when it comes to selection matters he is meticulous to a T and leaves no stone unturned.

Great Paula Radcliffe is certain to fill a place in the first issue of selections following an astounding bounce back to form out of the shadows coming third in 2h23:46 in Berlin and few could argue with that. She is sheer class, vastly experienced and a fiercesome competitor like no other and everyone knows what she could be capable of provided she can maintain a steady injury-free course to London. Further, she commands the greatest respect and forms an inspiration to all the other distance female runners in the land.

Van Commennee senses that the world record holder over the distance can extend the range of British gold medal prospects into six in London so he is going to give her the chance to prepare as she thinks best and totally undistracted in the pursuit of the elusive title in her illustrious career.

However, the main dilemma lies right below Radcliffe downwards through the ranks. Should he name a second runner on the team from early on in a similar light or leave two places up for grabs in a virtual run-off in the London marathon in April? This is a matter that requires plenty of thought and vision.

As fair and more straightforward as the latter option may look, it presents a certain tricky situation. London marathon falls a little too close to the Olympics and while van Commennee would get his two other runners fair and square that could compromise the chances of a good overall showing in the Olympics considerably. Simply, the next peak in their performance graph may not tie in with and overtake the London Olympics – for that matter, there would be an apparent danger of athletes arriving tired or spent there if they sped up their build-up.

That is a variable that might as well entice towards the former, maybe safer, option; having two individuals building up fully focussed on London, unconcerned about selection issues or tackling another race over the distance, with a vacancy for the taking between the rest in April.

In which case, the name of Mara Yamauchi could come forth first on the back of a solid showing that earned her third place in 2h27:24 in the streets of Yokohama in difficult warm conditions, pulling away a full minute into runner-up in the British rankings this season. The Japanese-based athlete is a monster of consistency and boasts a very good record on the big stage, sixth in Beijing and ninth in Osaka, that could stand her in good stead for an early selection. On top of that, her 2h23 form in the relatively recent past is not beyond her.

That said, the latest global trend in the women’s marathon shows that the top tier is ever more overrun by runners of a sound speed background over shorter distances, either on the track or the road, which might point to a little gamble on Jo Pavey, a 14:39.96 performer over 5000m among others in the past. The 38-year-old is a new girl-on-the-block but looks to have been settling already into her stride and has clocked a brace of 2h28 runs in as many outings so far (PB 2h28:24). The potential is there and she could knock a few more minutes off with a few more months of training behind her.

On the other hand, van Commennee should not haste into assigning all three places early so that he doesn’t miss out on any potential breakthrough from behind. Claire Hallissey came to slash nearly seven minutes off her PB to a new mark of 2h29:27 in Chicago to emerge as a contenter out of virtually nowhere, she is on a momentum and will fancy her chances of pulling off a late upset.

Louise Damen finds herself in an intricate position following her non-finish in Yokohama. She ran only around 10km there meaning that she could be physically on call to race again even within a couple of weeks, which in turn comes within the frame of 5 December. So might she gamble on such a venture? At any rate, she has got a marathon in hand on the others and has got to choose sensibly where to play her card.

From there on, Beijing Olympian Liz Yelling has still got lots of ground to make if her 2h34:58 in Frankfurt is anything to go by, while Alyson Dixon is an interesting character and could improve a good deal on her PB of 2h34:50 in warm and windy conditions in Brighton last April. Susan Partridge completes the list of Olympic qualifiers down to a PB of 2h34:13 in London.