Athletics: Pregnant Radcliffe aims for Olympics

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The Independent Online

Paula Radcliffe is adamant she can continue her career for at least six years and challenge for the 2012 Olympic marathon title once she has settled into the routine of motherhood.

The world marathon record holder announced yesterday that she is pregnant, but believes the birth of her first child next January will motivate her to continue her career until the London Games. But Radcliffe has other major objectives before then. The 32-year-old is targeting the 2007 World Championships in Osaka, Japan, although she is unsure whether or not she will defend her marathon title.

"I haven't decided if I will definitely do the marathon - it could be the 10,000 metres" said Radcliffe, who seven years ago won a silver medal in the 25-lap track race.

A year later Radcliffe will attempt to atone for the only marathon defeat she has suffered in her career, by chasing the gold medal at the 2008 Olympics in China.

"Beijing is my long-term goal for the marathon," said Radcliffe, whose top priority has always been to make amends for dropping out at the last Games in Athens.

Then Radcliffe intends to continue to cope with the stresses of being a mother and a world-class performer, which include lots of travelling, leading into the London Games.

"I would like to be part of the British team. I'm not sure what my chances of winning will be there - but Carlos Lopez was 38 when he won his title," she said of the Portuguese men's champion in Los Angeles in 1984.

Radcliffe now plans to shy away from major competitions and will not defend her European 10,000m crown next month in Gothenburg.

She said: "I'll be over four months pregnant by then and do not want to take any risks. I won't compete in top-level competitions but will run some low-key races. "We'll see how it goes. However, first and foremost it is important the baby is born healthy."

Now recovered from the foot injury which prevented her participation at the Commonwealth Games in March and the following month's London Marathon, she plans a few low-profile races. "It's coming along perfectly," said Radcliffe, who has been running around 100 miles per week, determined to compete for as long as possible. "I'll play it by ear. Although obviously I want to get back running as quickly as possible."

Radcliffe will remember that Liz McColgan, who preceded her as Britain's top distance runner, won a World Cross Country Championships bronze medal just four months after the birth of her first daughter.

* The sport's world governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations, has not ratified the indoor 4x400m relay world record set by the US in February. The time of 3min 01.96sec was not officially approved because no analysis for the banned substance erythropoietin was performed. Kerron Clement, Wallace Spearmon, Darold Williamson and the Olympic champion Jeremy Wariner ran the time at a meeting in Fayetteville, Arkansas, on 11 February. The previous mark of 3:02.83, set by the US in 1999, will remain the world record.