There have hardly been any surprises in the first wave of selections for the marathon announced by the British Olympic Assossiation earlier today as Paula Radcliffe, Mara Yamauchi and Scott Overall booked their places on the starting line of London in summer.

Scott Overall

World record holder Radcliffe, actually, was always a certainty fully acknowledged and respected within all quarters since her staggering comeback to form in clocking 2h23:46 for third in the streets of Berlin last September and even Charles van Commennee moved to confirm her place well in advance, apparently attempting to brush aside any lingering worries or anxiety playing on her mind at the time.

At her best, she can be a genuine gold medal contender and UK Athletics’s head coach wants to make sure she enjoys the best possible build-up to London, representing her last chance to gain hold of the only accolade missing from her pedigree.

From there on, there were two main options left open and the Dutchman eventually leant towards the safer trail of naming a second runner early so that he has two individuals fully focussed on their preparations and unconcerned about contesting another race over the distance up to the Olympics, thus coming up with Yamauchi.

The Japanese-based athlete edged ahead of the pack in contention for selection behind Radcliffe late courtesy of her 2h27:54 for third in Yokohama and her very good championship record, as well as her superior PB of 2h23:12, counted a good deal in her favour.

The third place goes now down to a virtual run-off in the London marathon in April where Jo Pavey stands out as favourite to round out the Olympic trio while Claire Hallissey and Louise Damen look like her most dangerous rivals and may have a say in this.

On the men’s side, things were far simpler and Scott Overall had very much nailed his berth as early as he crossed the line in an astounding debut 2h10:55 for firth in Berlin in September, off a very unconvincing season at that. But that is where the very beauty of athletics really lies as the seemingly impossible can always be possible!

What is going to be intriguing, though, is whether he decides to head straight for the Olympics or take in another outing over the distance to gain more experience on the way.

Selectors could have gone for Dave Webb, who holds an equivalent A Olympic standard as he finished in the top 20 in Daegu, but having not run inside 2h15 so far may have counted against his early selection. However, he has got a good case in his hands and could tackle a late winter marathon to enhance his own prospects, placing pressure on the rest who will most likely opt for a make-or-break venture in London in April.

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Reaction

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Damen relieved to still have chance of gaining an Olympic berth

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/athletics/16050941.stm

Yamauchi feels privileged to have been selected

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/athletics/16070783.stm

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