Oxford-born marathon runner Mara Yamauchi received the coveted Achilles Club medal from athletics legend Sir Roger Bannister yesterday, and then highlighted next year’s London Marathon as her next big target.

The award, which is only presented to former Oxford and Cambridge University students who have achieved outstanding international results, was given in recognition of the former Headington Roadrunner’s magnificent surge up the UK rankings, where she now stands second behind Paula Radcliffe.

She finished sixth in the 2007 London Marathon, and at the Beijing Olympics.

And just three weeks ago, Yamauchi, 35, clocked a personal best of 2hrs 25mins 3secs as she finished third in the Tokyo Marathon.

Yamauchi, who now lives in Japan, said: “It such an honour to receive this award from Sir Roger, in Oxford, where I have so many memories.”

Yamauchi was joined by her parents Dr Norman Myers and Dorothy Myers, as well as members of the current Oxford University Athletics Club, who are preparing for this weekend’s Varsity Cross Country meeting against Cambridge.

She will be spending the next few months preparing for the London Marathon, with altitude training in both Japan and Switzerland on the agenda.

Yamauchi will be up against Radcliffe on April 26, and says that she will give her best in the capital.

“Whether I can ever beat Paula is debatable,” she said.

“Her world record is ten minutes quicker than I have ever run, so in many ways she is in a different league.

“But I do think the gap is closing and would like to think that some day I would be able to beat her.”

Sir Roger Bannister was fullsome in his praise of Yamauchi.

He said: “I have always had an enormous respect for mar-athon runners.

“It’s nice to bring people together to celebrate her achievements, which she has gained through endurance, persistence and sheer dedication.”