Paula had to race to kick-start the healing process

Colin Jackson in Athens

It was a huge, emotional night of athletics and I could empathise with both extremes; Paula Radcliffe bowing out of a race again, and the Chinese hurdler Xiang Liu's dreamy run which matched the world record I set when I won the World Championships in Stuttgart 11 years ago.

It was a huge, emotional night of athletics and I could empathise with both extremes; Paula Radcliffe bowing out of a race again, and the Chinese hurdler Xiang Liu's dreamy run which matched the world record I set when I won the World Championships in Stuttgart 11 years ago.

I don't believe there was anything wrong with Paula's preparation or her mental attitude which led to her dropping out of the marathon last Sunday; she was simply exhausted and overheated. Last night her legs had nothing in them, so she had to stop. Paula has talked about feeling crushed after the marathon. I understand that because I have been there: I stumbled in seventh in Barcelona in 1992 when I was the fastest in the world and the favourite for gold.

I know some people must have been finding Paula's reaction extreme this week. She hasn't lost a loved one, only a race. But I was the same. I didn't sleep or speak to anybody for a week after Barcelona. Ten days later I had a meet in Monaco, a rerun of the Olympic final, where I went and beat everybody. That proved I was good enough, and I went back to my hotel room and cried and cried. It is like grief, because at this level our whole lives are devoted to achieving our best in the sport, and when you have had a dream in your hands, then had it snatched away, it feels as if a part of you has indeed died. A healing process has to follow.

Paula had no chance of taking on Huina Xing, the Chinese runner who zipped through to win. Her participation was the beginning of her healing process. She went out and ran and that's the start of coming back. When she stopped this time it was no huge trauma, she simply had nothing left. Now she needs to go home, rest, grieve some more, then start again next season. I think she may have something wrong physically, so she will have that to overcome, too.

After 1992, I redoubled my efforts and redeemed myself the following year by winning the World Championships and breaking the world record. Last night Xiang Liu reminded me of myself then, a young man at the top of his form. Liu is wonderful: rhythmical, consistent, so strong, and he ran beautifully, brushing just one hurdle. He's a true hurdler, lovely to watch, not just a powerful sprinter clattering through every hurdle.

If he'd beaten my record, I'd have said good luck, but I'm proud it still stands. I set it when I needed to most, when I was coming back from the depths as Paula Radcliffe has to now, as we know she will. Time heals, Paula - and while it does, I'll be keeping my eye on Xiang Liu, and watching how much longer my world record will last.

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