Radcliffe keeps options open for 10k race

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The Independent Online

Paula Radcliffe has not ruled herself out of running the Olympic 10,000 metres tomorrow, it was revealed today.

Paula Radcliffe has not ruled herself out of running the Olympic 10,000 metres tomorrow, it was revealed today.

British team officials met the 7am BST deadline today for telling Olympic officials who the potential runners are in the race - with Radcliffe listed.

If they had not "laid papers" for the athlete by that time, Radcliffe would not have been allowed to run in the race tomorrow evening.

But although she is now listed as a starter, Team GB officials stressed the procedure was "just a formality" to keep Radcliffe's options open.

"She is on the start line, she can race if she wants," said a spokesman forthe British athletics team in Athens.

"We have confirmed her entry into the race this morning - it is just a formality. We will now give Paula as much time as she wants to decide whether she will compete or not.

"She has the option to compete now but it's up to her, she will make the decision on her own."

The official said Radcliffe, or any athlete, could withdraw from a race at any point, even minutes before the event was due to start.

Radcliffe must decide whether to have one final go at winning an elusive Olympic medal she so longs for.

She was left distraught and in tears at the roadside after pulling up in the marathon on Sunday after 22 miles.

Her failure to win left her "devastated" and she later broke down in tears of frustration at a press conference.

Tomorrow's race is probably the last chance for the 30-year-old athlete to snatch an Olympic medal after two previous Olympic heartbreaks.

It is hoped the timing of the race - much later in the day than when the marathon was run - will benefit Radcliffe.

She had to compete in the baking heat of the Athens sun during the 26-mile race on Sunday, although she did not blame the 93F temperatures for her failure to perform.

Tomorrow's race is at 7.50pm (BST), when the temperature will be much cooler.

Two previous Olympic dreams have eluded Radcliffe after she finished fifth in the 5,000m event at Atlanta in 1996 and fourth in the 10,000m at Sydney in 2000 - after leading for much of the way.

If she fails to reach the podium tomorrow, she will be seen by many as one of Britain's and the Olympics' greatest athletes never to have won a medal at a Games.

"I desperately want to get out and redeem myself for all the work and support I have had, but I am not going to put myself in the arena if I am not right," Radcliffe said after the marathon.

She has increased the intensity of her training since Sunday and is believed to be on training runs this morning as the final decision about whether to run the race draws ever closer.