Athletics: Radcliffe asks for more time to prove fitness

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The Independent Online

Paula Radcliffe is yet to confirm whether she will compete at the European Cross Country Championships in Edinburgh but has been provisionally selected for the Great Britain squad.

Radcliffe asked the selectors for more time to confirm her fitness for the championships on 14 December after feeling unwell in Monday's Chiba International Ekiden Road Relay in Japan, where she finished a disappointing third on the opening 10km stage. Her husband and manager, Gary Lough, said: "Paula will reflect on things for a few days before deciding whether she will take a place in the team for Edinburgh."

Last year's junior champion Charlotte Dale will defend her title - but also has to assure the selectors she has recovered from a calf injury.

If Radcliffe runs she will have strong support from Jo Pavey, a finalist in the 1500 metres at this year's World Championship, the English cross country champion Hayley Yelling and the former European Cup 3000m gold-medallist Kathy Butler. Susan Partridge and Liz Yelling will make up the six-strong team.

The men's side will be led by trial winner Chris Thompson, winner of the European junior 5,000m title in the summer. Chris Davies, who dropped out of the trail race with an ankle injury, is also expected to be fit.

Meanwhile, Bergen in Norway will host the first Golden League meeting of 2004 because a new stadium is being built in Oslo, the traditional host city for the premier series.

Rome, Paris and Zurich follow the series opener on 11 June with a break for the Olympics from 13-29 August. Brussels re-starts the series on 3 September before the Berlin finale nine days later.

The discus will be included as a regular Golden League event for the first time.