Athletics: Promotion hopes spur Radcliffe to double act

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The Independent Online

Paula Radcliffe will double her schedule at the European Cup event in Portugal this weekend in an effort to earn Britain's women a return to the Super League of the competition following their relegation last year.

Paula Radcliffe will double her schedule at the European Cup event in Portugal this weekend in an effort to earn Britain's women a return to the Super League of the competition following their relegation last year.

The 31-year-old marathon world record-holder had entered Sunday's 5,000 metres, and yesterday morning she made a swift decision to add Saturday's 3,000m to her commitments after the withdrawal of the injured Jo Pavey.

"It took me less than an hour to decide that I could also compete in the 3,000m," Radcliffe said. "The most important thing is the women need to be back up in the Super League with the men, we need to get out there and do our best. My aim is to gain the maximum points I possibly can for the team. It's an honour to represent Great Britain, it gives me an extra buzz and I enjoy being part of the team."

Radcliffe, who confirmed her participation in the competition at Leiria last Sunday week after completing the 1500m at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, previously doubled up in the European Cup in 1998, when she won the 5,000m and finished second in the 1500m.

Pavey aggravated a minor foot injury en route to her impressive victory at the Norwich Union International in Glasgow on 5 June.

Radcliffe's double commitment will be especially welcome given that Kelly Holmes, who announced that she would run the 800m in Portugal after winning at 1500m in Glasgow, pulled out on Friday because of an Achilles tendon problem. Radcliffe produced the performance of the weekend at the European Cup in Bydgoszcz last year, winning the 5,000m in 14min 29.11sec, the third fastest ever recorded. But it could not prevent the women being relegated for the first time since 1967.

* Kim Collins will step up his campaign to retain his world 100m title against an illustrious field at the Norwich Union London Grand Prix on 22 July. The St Kitts & Nevis sprinter will face the former world record-holder Maurice Greene in an event that will provide a stern test of the credentials of Mark Lewis-Francis and Jason Gardener.

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