Paula Radcliffe retains Olympic hopes despite injury woes

Charles van Commenee - the pragmatic, spade’s-a-spade-calling Dutchman in charge of the British track and field team - had it just about right when he stood at the side of the wind-swept Paula Radcliffe Stadium in Loughorough a week past Sunday. “What about Paula Radcliffe?” Van Commenee had been asked, while giving his thoughts on the state of the host nation’s athletics talent as the pre-Olympic year track season got underway.

“Let’s see when she’s raced,” he replied. “Obviously Paula can be the star of the Games. She’s also fragile, and it’s all about getting her fit to the start-line in London. What happens between now and then, I’m not too fussed about.”

The result for Radcliffe in the Bupa London 10,000 on Monday, her first race for 18 months, was not great. The woman who holds the world best time for 10km on the roads, 30 min 21 sec, struggled home third in 33:17.

Even worse, as she fought back tears after a performance she described as “a bit of a disaster,” the 37-year-old Bedfordshire woman revealed that she had been stricken by yet another ailment. That fragile body, which betrayed her in the crucial run ups to the 2004 and 2008 Olympic marathons, had suffered a torn and leaking disc in the spine.

For Radcliffe, the Jonny Wilkinson of the running world, half of the battle in her quest for the one prize missing from her otherwise glittering CV was always going to be getting to the start-line in London next year in a fit state to challenge for an Olympic medal. That essential part of the equation, being in sound shape on the one day in the 1,400-day four-year Olympic cycle that matters the most, proved beyond her in Athens in 2004 and in Beijing in 2008.

As Van Commenee underlined, Radcliffe’s prime objective is to get to the start line for the 2012 Olympic women’s marathon on Sunday 5 August in a “fit” state. She does, however, also need to get herself fit enough to achieve the qualifying standard before the end of April next year.

That is 2hr 31min. Radcliffe’s world record, set in London in 2003, is 2hr 15min 25sec, although since 2005 she has not run faster than 2:23:09. Her plan is to run an autumn marathon, probably in Berlin on 25 September.

Asked whether this latest problem might lead to a postponement, Radcliffe said: “At this stage, I don't think so, but it depends on the time that it drags on. I only found out about this three or four weeks ago. Before that, I just thought it was taking me a long time to get back into shape and then they found out what it was.

“In a way, it was kind of a relief to find out there was something wrong because I was thinking, ‘Oh, my god! Can I just not do it any more?’ But I was still able to train on the roads and I still thought I would be able to run much better in London

“I'm going up to Loughborough University this week, so I'll see the doctors and probably get another scan up there. I've not got to run a marathon until the end of the year and if they say, ‘Rest this long and then it’ll clear up,’ then I'll do that.

"I certainly wouldn’t go into the Olympics next year if I thought I was going to run rubbish. If I think I’m going to be there and give it a shot and run well, then I definitely will.”

sportWWE latest including Sting vs Triple H, Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns and The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor