After her selection for the Olympic women's marathon was officially rubber-stamped yesterday, Paula Radcliffe described the decision to double the budget for the London 2012 opening and closing ceremonies as "frivolous". The Government has announced that an extra £41m of taxpayers' money is to be spent on the elaborate ceremonies, adding to cash provided by the organising committee, and Radcliffe feels the money could be better spent elsewhere.
"I think it is a little bit frivolous to throw a lot at it given the fact we are in a recession," she said. "The money could be thrown at other areas such as grass-roots sports .The Games are costing quite a bit as it is and it would be better off spent in ways which would give more back long term." Radcliffe has competed in the past four Olympics but never attended an opening ceremony.
Already the fastest female marathon runner of all time, the pride of Bedford and County Athletics Club will have another place in the record books as the first British runner to take part in five Olympic Games. Two track and field athletes have represented Great Britain in a quintet of Olympics before: javelin thrower Tessa Sanderson and race walker Chris Maddocks. Radcliffe will be the first to do so in running events.
"To represent your country at a home Olympics is something special," she said. Radcliffe, who turns 38 later this month, finished fifth in the 5,000m in Atlanta in 1996 and fourth in the 10,000m in Sydney in 2000 but has been blighted by injury and illness on her two appearances in the Olympic marathon, failing to finish in Athens in 2004 and limping home 23rd in Beijing in 2008. She is joined in the women's marathon team for 2012 by Mara Yamauchi. Scott Overall has been selected for the men's race.
The Britons who have competed in at least five Olympics:
Track and field Chris Maddocks – Race walking (1984-2000); Tessa Sanderson – Javelin (1976-1996).
Fencing Bill Hoskyns (1956-1976).
Rowing Sir Steve Redgrave (1984-2000) Jack Beresford (1920-1936).
Sailing Durward Knowles (1948-1972 and 1988).
Swimming Mark Foster (1988-2000 and 2008); Alison Sheppard (1988-2004).
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