'She isn't a quitter... it was heartbreaking sight'

The former mile world record holder Steve Cram claimed last night that Paula Radcliffe should not be considered "a quitter" for failing to complete the marathon in Athens yesterday.

The former mile world record holder Steve Cram claimed last night that Paula Radcliffe should not be considered "a quitter" for failing to complete the marathon in Athens yesterday.

"This is not the way she would have wanted her Olympic challenge to end," said Cram.

"She had worked so hard to try to win a medal but once [Elfenesh] Alemu went past her, that was that.

"Paula had already seen her chances of a gold or silver medal pass her by and with Alemu overtaking her, that was the chance of a bronze gone as well.

"She isn't a quitter but she was visibly struggling and it was a heartbreaking sight.

"This was a beast of a course, whatever the conditions, but they were given the most testing of conditions to perform in."

Radcliffe's teammate Liz Yelling, who finished in 25th place, said: "I am absolutely gutted for her.

"I know how hard she has trained and just how much dedication and sacrifice she has made. She wanted this one so badly. Maybe she underestimated the course."

The British 110m hurdles world record holder Colin Jackson and sprinter Alan Wells suggested Radcliffe's decision to quit may have a negative effect on the British team's morale.

Jackson said: "It is very disappointing because she was one of the people we had backed to win a medal." Jackson said.

"Generally everyone is pretty flat now. There is no doubt about that, because everybody would feel for Paula."

Wells, Olympic 100m champion from 1980, said: "It's going to be difficult for them, but the athletes have their own thing to do."

The former British athletics director Frank Dick said the 30-year-old was targeted by her opponents. Dick, who was among the crowd, said: "I think even she will have felt the pressure of the tactics put into place against her. Her opponents will have just hung in and watched what she was going to do. It isn't easy being the front-runner for most of the race, which she was.

"You also have to remember this was a different kind of race for her.

"It wasn't about chasing world records. It was about winning the most sought-after title in the world."

"Whatever she is thinking, Paula must not turn her back on the marathon.

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