Peter Corrigan: Radcliffe silences snipers

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The Independent Online

It's a little early for annual reviews, but there's a solid contender for the Slur of the Year award. It can be shared equally between the media people who dismissed Paula Radcliffe's failure in the Olympic marathon in Athens as a dishonourable retreat from her responsibilities to the nation.

It's a little early for annual reviews, but there's a solid contender for the Slur of the Year award. It can be shared equally between the media people who dismissed Paula Radcliffe's failure in the Olympic marathon in Athens as a dishonourable retreat from her responsibilities to the nation.

Their allegation was that she quit because, with four miles to go, she realised she wasn't going to win a medal. Their argument was that she should have finished, even had it taken five hours.

How anyone could reach that conclusion after watching the distressed and disorientated way she stumbled to a halt was difficult to understand. The British team doctor said she could have died had she attempted to go on, but perhaps martyrdom would have been the only accept-able penance in the eyes of those whose high sporting values she failed to satisfy.

When she then made that brave but ill-judged attempt to make amends in the 10,000 metres, her failure to finish that race also merely compounded their view that she's a quitter at heart.

When she insisted on competing in the New York marathon, experts warned that she was taking a risk with her reputation. Watching her finally beat off the challenge of Susan Chepkemei, agony that it was for her and us for so long, was not only a joyous sporting moment but a sweet vindication for a brave woman.

She deserved far more than a few naff questions about bowel movements on the Frank Skinner Show on Thursday, but the critics have been reduced to an embarrassed silence. There have been a few snide references to the money she earned in New York, but you couldn't put a value on all the satisfaction she must have gained.

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