While Sunday’s Virgin London Marathon is expected to be depleted of many of its elite international athletes because of the closure of UK airspace, British Olympic marathon runner Mara Yamauchi will be there as one of the contenders for the women’s title.

Yamauchi, who lived in Richmond before moving to Japan with her husband, was due at a press conference yesterday, along with the defending champion Irina Mikitenko, from Germany.

Yamauchi finished runner-up in the women’s race in 2009, 61 seconds behind the German.

The 36-year-old warmed-up for London with an impressive win in last month’s New York Half Marathon.

Wallington wheelchair racer David Weir will be aiming to bounce back in Sunday’s race after a double blow in 2009.

Last year, Weir lost out to Australian Kurt Fearnley and also saw his course record beaten by the same man.

Weir won the London mini wheelchair race seven times before graduating to the full distance in 2000, going on to become the only athlete to win both the mini and full wheelchair marathon events.

He won the London wheelchair marathon for the first time in 2002 and made it four wins with a hat-trick of successes between 2006, when he set the course record of 1:29:48, and 2008.

Last year, he was pipped by just one second in a sprint down The Mall.

Hercules Wimbledon president David Littlewood will once again be refereeing the men’s race on Sunday.

Littlewood was due to travel to Slovakia this week to lead the English team competing in an international schools cross country meeting in Liptovsky Mikvlas, Slovakia, but was forced to abandon the idea because of the lack of flights.

The team left by road on Monday afternoon for an estimated 24-hour journey to the match, which was being held on Wednesday.