Athletics: Radcliffe's sights on double gold in Helsinki
Tuesday 26 July 2005
Although Radcliffe - who is the only previous World Championship medal winner in a British team of 52 - had always kept her options open for Helsinki, her decision to go for both events comes as a surprise, particularly after the problems she had at last month's European Cup, where she was suffering from the combined effects of a viral infection and a back injury.
But as she renews her quest for a world title in the wake of her traumatic failures at last year's Olympics, Radcliffe said she made the decision two weeks ago in the light of heartening performances while training at altitude in Font Romeu.
Given the eight-day gap between the 10,000m, which is on the opening day of the Championships, and the marathon, Radcliffe feels she can use the former as a final preparation for the latter - although she maintains she is capable of winning both. "When I go into any race I try to win," she said. "I wouldn't be putting myself on the line if I didn't think I was to be able to do it. I think I'm in shape to run well and do myself justice. My main focus is definitely the marathon, I feel the 10,000m can be my last race to bring me up well."
Radcliffe will follow the same pattern as last year by visiting her physical therapist, Ger Hartmann, for four days before flying in directly to Helsinki for the 10,000m. She will then base herself at the nearby British holding camp at Turku in the intervening week.
She shrugged off the suggestion that a difficult outing in the 10,000m, where the Ethiopian runners are viewed by most observers as being hard to beat, would harm her chances in what she maintains is her main event. "I don't really think like that," she said. "They are two different events and I don't really envisage it going wrong. Going into the marathon, if your training has been going well it gives you a feeling of solid confidence and it's hard to knock that back." The sound of a confident Radcliffe will soothe the ears of the British team selectors, who lost the services of the double Olympic champion, Kelly Holmes, to an Achilles tendon injury last week.
Radcliffe apart, the team does not look overly burdened with potential medallists, although Britain does look capable of supplying a dozen or more finalists.
Triple jumper Nathan Douglas and heptathlete Kelly Sotherton appear Britain's most likely other medallists.
But there will be added interest in the fortunes of those such as Tim Benjamin, who broke through to world class by defeating the Olympic 400m champion Jeremy Wariner on Friday, and Christian Malcolm, who has maintained impressive form over 200m. The selectors have favoured a number of young athletes who have fallen just short of A qualifying marks, such as 400m hurdlers Nicola Saunders and Rhys Williams, the European under-23 400m hurdles champion and son of former Welsh rugby union winger JJ Williams. Craig Pickering, meanwhile, newly established as European junior 100m champion, is in the sprint relay team.
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