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.”

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine