Yamauchi comes home for Olympics
Britain's leading female marathon runner Mara Yamauchi has emigrated back to London ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games to better prepare for the event.
The 37-year-old, who married a Japanese man, had been living in Japan since 2006, but she told Eurosport that a number of factors have brought them back to the UK.
"I came back in mid-February and my husband came in early March," she explained. "I'm recovering from an injury, and in the run-up to the Olympics I decided it would be safer to be near the support provided by UK Athletics."
Yamauchi has been suffering from a hamstring tendon injury on her right leg and is only just beginning to return to training. The blow put paid to her chances of competing in the London Marathon, where she finished second in 2009.
However, Yamauchi cites several reasons behind the decision to come home.
"It's other things as well," she explained. "Like being near my family and with the Olympics being in London, being based in London will be easier for us to see the Marathon course."
The London Olympic Marathon course will bear little resemblance to the annual London Marathon route, and knowing its twists and turns in advance could be a crucial advantage come raceday.
"Courses vary a great deal," said Yamauchi, "in terms of whether they're flat or hilly, the road surface, whether the streets are narrow or wide, whether are lots of corners - and the Olympic course is, I think, quite a tough one because there are a lot of corners and some sharp ups and downs.
"I find it mentally very helpful if I run on the course before I race it. So when I'm fully fit and a bit nearer the time I would hope to run that course so that it is fresh in my mind."
One thing her training will not be able to replicate, of course, is the huge crowds that are sure to turn out for the Marathon on Olympic day - but Yamauchi insists there is little better than home support.
"You can watch the Olympic Marathon without tickets," Yamauchi added, "and it goes through a lot of London landmarks like St Paul's Cathedral, the Embankment, Big Ben and so on, and because it's a looped course you'll be able to see the runners several times and see the story of the race unfold.
"I think it will be a fantastic day out for spectators.
"But once I've finished competing I'd love to be able to see some of the Olympic events - not just athletics. We're just figuring out what tickets we're going to bid for to watch once the Marathon has taken place!"
To apply for London 2012 tickets visit