Injury robs Radcliffe of London stop on road to Beijing Olympics

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Paula Radcliffe's route to the Beijing Olympic marathon race will not now involve the Flora London event, from which she pulled out yesterday because of a toe injury.

The 34-year-old world record holder injured a tendon on her right big toe at her high-altitude training base in Albuquerque, New Mexico last month, and despite returning to Europe for specialist treatment two weeks ago she has been unable to get rid of the problem.

Radcliffe, who was due to seek a fourth London title after her victories in 2002, 2003 and 2005, admitted that the injury was a blow to her plans just five months before the Olympics get under way in China, but insisted the problem was a "minor" one.

"I am desperately disappointed that I have to pull out of this year's race," she said in a statement. "I love running in London and this race would have been the perfect test for me before the Olympic Games. But in marathon training there are no short cuts and there is simply not enough time to be in the shape I want to be to run well in London. Now I must concentrate on being as well prepared as possible for Beijing."

The indications are that Radcliffe would be able to compete in the London event, but not at the level she would have wished, and thus she has made an early decision in an attempt to reduce pressure on herself and safeguard her Olympic ambitions.

Radcliffe's victory in the New York marathon last November – her first race at the distance in two years after a break caused by a combination of maternity and injury – confirmed that she was well on track to make up for her Olympic disappointment of 2004, where she dropped out of the race with four miles remaining. She will be anxious not to risk a repeat of the circumstances in which she found herself on the eve of the Athens race, when she was suffering a reaction to anti-inflammatory drugs taken to counteract a calf injury.

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