Page 3 Profile: Paula Radcliffe, Runner

 

Haven't seen her in a while…

No, it hasn't been the best year of her career. She missed out on the London Olympics this summer after an injury and on top of that she has just been given the news that she is going to lose her National Lottery funding.

Until now she was receiving the top "podium-level" funding, which can be as much as £26,000 a year on top of access to coaches, facilities and training camps. If she wants to continue training at the same level, she'll have to fund herself.

Ouch.

In reality, the decision doesn't come as too much of a surprise. The 38-year-old record breaker may hold a special place in the nation's heart but recently her athletic prowess has begun to fade. Since 2009, she has run only one marathon, and this year competed in only one long-distance race, coming sixth in a half-marathon in Vienna.

Why didn't she lose her funding earlier?

This year, UK Athletics has tightened its purse strings, narrowing the criteria for the athletes it supports. It used to fund athletes with top-eight potential; now the money goes only to those who could be medal contenders at world championships in the next Olympic cycle. She's not alone: fellow marathon runner Mara Yamauchi and sprinters Marlon Devonish and Mark Lewis-Francis are among a host of other veteran athletes who have lost out.

For Radcliffe, her past successes and public profile (she has an MBE, remember?) will mean that she should be able to support her career for a little longer without too much difficulty.

So there's hope for her yet?

This certainly won't be the last that we see of her. She has already tweeted that retirement is definitely not on the agenda. Regardless of her fitness now, during the peak of her career, between 2000 and 2009, she won almost every road marathon she ran in, she still holds the fastest women's marathon time, of 2.15.25, and she was announced BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 2002.

She may have finally outrun herself, but with a history like that there's nothing to be disappointed with.

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