Athletics: Radcliffe victorious despite streamer accident

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The Independent Online

Paula Radcliffe will head to the United States on Friday to begin preparations for the Commonwealth Games and the London Marathon after winning the Vallecana Sylvester road race in Madrid yesterday.

Radcliffe, after the mini-drama of an over-enthusiastic spectator accidentally throwing a streamer into her mouth, recovered to easily win the Spanish 10km event in a time of 31 minutes 16 seconds.

"It really was a good way to round off 2005," said Radcliffe, whose London Marathon victory last April and World Championships gold medal at the distance in the summer highlighted another successful year.

"There are no problems, no after effects, I'm feeling great," Radcliffe said of the streamer incident after she had comfortably defeated Jelena Prokopcuka.

"I kind of expected it might happen, but when it did, it came as a surprise," added the world marathon record holder.

Radcliffe recovered her composure to beat her Latvian rival by 35 seconds with Marta Dominguez, the host nation's reigning European 5,000m title holder, third.

Having ended her 2005 season on a winning note, Radcliffe will set up a training base in New Mexico to kickstart her new year.

In Melbourne in March she has the opportunity to defend her 5,000m gold medal which she won in 2002 when setting a Commonwealth record of 14 minutes 31.42 seconds in Manchester.

She has also been chosen by Team England for the 10,000m, which will help her build up to the following month's London Marathon.

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