Athletics: Radcliffe reveals injury during Athens build-up

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The Independent Online

Paula Radcliffe has revealed that a muscle injury she sustained two weeks before the Olympics may have contributed to her traumatic failure in Athens last month.

Paula Radcliffe has revealed that a muscle injury she sustained two weeks before the Olympics may have contributed to her traumatic failure in Athens last month.

The 30-year-old Briton believes her performance was undermined by a problem which emerged while she was training in Seville, when her quad muscle went into spasm and subsequently proved to have a blood clot attached to it. Her coaching team were unsure whether she would be able to compete, but she did so after undergoing an aggressive line of treatment. "The period was extremely stressful and I was unable to sleep with worry some nights," Radcliffe said. "I also suffered an upset stomach from the high dosage of anti-inflammatories."

Over the space of six days in Athens, Radcliffe failed to finish both the marathon and 10,000 metres events, earning a mixture of sympathy and criticism from the media and wider public.

"I was extremely depressed and exhausted, and struggled to see beyond what I had lost and how hard I and many others around me had worked for it," she said. "I didn't want to go out and face the world feeling embarrassed and ashamed and unable to handle concern and sympathy, let alone criticism, without breaking down. Yet I did not for one moment consider retiring or taking time out."

With the injury now fully healed, Radcliffe has returned to training, but has no definite competition dates yet.

"I still don't have the answers and may never get them," she said. "However, it's most likely that I had run my marathon just to get to the start line. Had I pushed further I would have damaged my body further. As it is, tests showed my liver was struggling to cope and I lost a lot of weight.

"I make no apologies for stopping," Radcliffe insisted. "I've wondered before if sometimes I might push my body too hard. Now at least I have the answer. I do have a safety button. That night was the worst of my life. My body hurt all over, but my heart was totally broken.

"Now I am concentrating on rebuilding my body and my morale. I feel angry and hurt and am determined to learn from the mistakes I made, but I don't doubt my ability to become stronger and wiser as a result. My dream is postponed, not over, and as soon as I am ready I will set new goals on the way to my next shot at it," she declared.

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