Haile Gebrselassie is the current world record holder
for the men's marathon [GALLO/GETTY]
World record holder Haile Gebrselassie is almost certain to miss the marathon at the Beijing Olympics because of the city's poor air quality.

The Ethiopian long distance star, who has asthma, fears damage to his health running through the streets of the Chinese capital.

Gebrselassie would be a gold medal favorite if he did take part.

"The pollution in China is a threat to my health and it would be difficult for me to run 42 km in my current condition," he said.

"But I am not pulling out of the Olympic event in Beijing all together. I plan to participate in the 10,000 m event."

Because of pollution problems, many countries have based their training camps outside of China before the Olympics begin August 8.

Nakamura makes Japan team

Meanwhile, Yurika Nakamura was rewarded for her weekend win in Nagoya with selection in Japan's marathon team for the Beijing Olympics.

The 21-year-old Nakamura, who won the Nagoya International Women's Marathon, will join Reiko Tosa and Athens Olympic champion Mizuki Noguchi on the women's squad, Japan's athletics federation said.

"I didn't expected to be selected, so it's like I'm in a dream,'' Nakamura said.

"But I feel a great sense of responsibility from having been selected, and will pull myself together to do my best.''

Missing from the women's squad was Sydney Olympic gold medalist and former world-record holder Naoko Takahashi, who finished a disappointing 27th at Nagoya.

The 35-year-old Takahashi also failed to qualify for Japan's team at the Athens Olympics.

The three-member men's squad includes Tsuyoshi Ogata, who was fifth at last year's world championships in Osaka, Atsushi Sato and Satoshi Osaki.

Source: Agencies