Olympian Mara Yamauchi, Britain's second fastest female marathon runner, has announced that she is to retire from elite competition. Having struggled with injuries in recent years, she is now looking to move on to new challenges.
The 39-year-old who took part in both the Beijing and London Olympics explained her decision: "I have achieved my childhood dream of becoming an Olympian, and enjoyed many years training and competing as an elite athlete. To be able to do what you love as your job is a rare and special privilege, and I am very grateful to all the people who have enabled me to do that. I have now decided that it's time to leave elite competition behind, and instead I will run for enjoyment and to stay healthy."
Mara reflected on the highlights of her career: "The most memorable moments of my career were finishing sixth in the Beijing Olympics and winning the 2008 Osaka marathon. But the most enjoyable thing was just going out training with friends."
Yamauchi competed at the Virgin London marathon a total of six times, her best performance coming in 2009 when she was runner-up to German Irina Mikitenko. Race director, Dave Bedford commended her performances: "Mara has been a great asset to British marathon running. Her second place in 2009 was an outstanding performance. And she's a thoroughly good egg!"
The Oxford native will return to her previous employment at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, whilst continuing to be active in running.
She said: "I am looking forward to the next stage of my life, and to being able to do things which you can't do as an elite athlete. Although I will return to work, I hope to stay involved in the running world as much as I can."