Athletics: Radcliffe nailed by her Irish nemesis

European Athletics Championships: Distraught British runner misses out on 10,000 metres medal as O'Sullivan takes gold

IT ENDED in tears once again for Paula Radcliffe here last night as she failed to secure the major international title she has been seeking with such determination for the past six years.

The 24-year-old Bedford runner was distraught after finishing fifth in a race won by an unanswerable final sprint from the Irishwoman who beat her into second place in the World Cross-Country Championships five months ago, Sonia O'Sullivan.

As the delighted O'Sullivan bounded off on a flag-waving lap of honour with all the welling energy of a winner, Radcliffe collapsed like a discarded doll on the infield and was put briefly on to a stretcher before insisting on walking, dazed and pale, from the arena.

Initially too upset to talk, Radcliffe was baffled by her failure to produce a better run after a period of altitude training at Font Romeu in the Pyrenees that had left her in outstanding shape.

"I can't explain it," she said. "I'm devastated. I had rested and drank enough water. I didn't feel nervous beforehand. And I was in the shape to run much faster.

"My legs felt as is if they were running fast even though I knew I wasn't."

Her plan to break up the field by introducing a sustained burst of speed in the second half of the race never came to fruition. Despite taking the lead in the race's sedate early stages, and again with just over 2,000 metres remaining, she was never able to get rid of the lurking threat of Portugal's Olympic champion, Fernando Ribeiro, Lidia Simon of Romania, Olivera Jevtic of Yugoslavia - and, of course, her nemesis at the world cross-country, O'Sullivan.

"My fastest lap was 72 seconds," she said. "It should have been 69."

After alternating the lead with Ribeiro in the closing stages of the race, Radcliffe reached the bell in front - and in apparent agony, her head nodding and rolling with effort. It was a position she had found herself in too many times before in a career that has seen her finish fourth over 5,000m at last year's World Championships, fifth at the 1996 Olympic Games and fifth at the 1995 World Championships.

As they turned into the final 400 metres, first Ribeiro then O'Sullivan glided past her, the leading group of five who had contested the second half of the race bunched again in the back straight. Not until the final bend did the race find its final definition as O'Sullivan - who until that point had merely glided along behind whoever was in the lead - stretched her long legs and moved away from the others like a speedboat clearing a bunch of rowers.

In the space of 150 metres, she created a 40-metre lead, crossing the line with fists clenched in a time of 39min 29.33sec. Behind her, Ribeiro took silver in 31.32.42, with Simon beating Jevtic to the bronze. An exhausted Radcliffe took an all too familiar placing.

Asked afterwards if she thought O'Sullivan might have offered more help with the pacemaking, she replied: "No. This is a championship race and you can't expect people to help you. That's the way Sonia runs her races."

O'Sullivan, a jubilant figure afterwards, said: "It was easy when I did the last lap. But the rest wasn't that easy."

Christine Arron, of France, won the women's 100m title in a European record of 10.73sec, after overhauling Russia's fast-starting defending champion, Irina Privalova, who took the silver in a time of 10.83.

Solomon Wariso, who earned the third 400 metres place at the expense of Roger Black, came within hundredths of a second of what would have been an ignominious exit after he slowed too soon in his opening heat and failed to gain one of the three automatic qualifying places for today's semi-finals, for which Britain's other entrants, Mark Richardson and Iwan Thomas, qualified comfortably.

The misjudgement of Solomon occurred 50 metres from the line as, apparently secure in third place, he looked around him in exaggerated fashion and slowed, allowing Jan Podebradsky, of the Czech Republic, to pass him. Wariso had no time to respond, finishing fourth in 46.27sec to the Czech's 46.16.

Wariso settled down to watch his fate determined by the three subsequent heats, hoping to progress as one of the four fastest losers. Despite an uncomfortably fast final heat in which the fourth-placed runner matched his time, Wariso finally did get his run.

Wariso's fortune was not shared by his colleague, Nick Buckfield. The 25-year-old pole vaulter landed badly in the pit in the qualifying competition and injured his back. He was taken to hospital, where X-rays showed no serious damage, but he returned, shaken, to the British team hotel with severe bruising to his hip.

News
One Direction's Zayn Malik gazes at a bouquet of flowers in the 'Night Changes' music video
people
News
people
News
'Free the Nipple' film screening after party with We Are The XX, New York, America - 04 Feb 2014
news
Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished
tvReview: The latest episode was a smidgen less depressing... but it’s hardly a bonza beach party
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Manager

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity to...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Manager - Production

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Trainee Managers are required to join the UK's...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Manager

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will maximise the effective...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + uncapped commission : SThree: Hello! I know most ...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss
Tony Blair joins a strange and exclusive club of political leaders whose careers have been blighted by the Middle East

Blair has joined a strange and exclusive club

A new tomb has just gone up in the Middle East's graveyard of US and British political reputations, says Patrick Cockburn