9 Japanese women have been added to the elite field for next month's Virgin London Marathon following the earthquake and tsunami which threatened to destroy their hopes of competing at the World Championships this August. The runners were due to compete in the Nagoya International Women's Marathon on March, the final selection race for the Japanese women's marathon team for the IAAF World Championships in Daegu.
When the Nagoya marathon was cancelled due to the tragedy which struck two days earlier, the London Marathon offered its support to the Japan Association of Athletic Federations (JAAF). The JAAF subsequently chose London as a replacement World Championships trial.
Virgin London Marathon race director David Bedford said: "We have all watched with horror the devastating scenes from Japan and we send our sympathies and condolences to our friends and colleagues there.
"On hearing that the Nagoya International Women's Marathon had been cancelled, the Virgin London Marathon immediately offered its support to the Japan Association of Athletic Federations. The JAAF asked us to assist by providing places to some of its runners and we are delighted to add 9 elite Japanese athletes to our elite women's field."
The 9 athletes include Yuri Kano, winner of the Nagoya marathon last year, who has a personal best of 2:24:27, Mizuho Nasukawa, a former Tokyo marathon champion, and Yurika Nakamura, the Nagoya champion in 2008.
With only Yoshimi Ozaki, this year's Yokohama marathon winner, already selected for Japan's Daegu team, there are still four places up for grabs. Yukiko Akaba, who won the Osaka marathon earlier this year and placed sixth in London last year, was already in the 2011 London Marathon elite women's field.