Paula Radcliffe and the Olympics don't seem to go

Society Materials 17 August 2008 09:22 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - There is just no love lost between the Olympics and Paula Radcliffe.

This was highlighted on Sunday when the conditions were as perfect as they could get for the British marathon runner. But Radcliffe complained about a sore leg and finished a modest 23rd instead of on top of the podium.

Radcliffe's story is one of near misses and pain apart from her sole world title in the 2005 marathon and a 10,000 runner-up finish at the 1999 worlds.

The Briton has a whole series of fourth and fifth-place finishes in big 5,000m and 10,000m races. Radcliffe's running style is far from the African smoothness and the pain in her face has formed lasting memories on the world's tracks.

The tide did not turn after she moved up to the marathon and smashed the world record twice to a new 2 hours 15 minutes 25 seconds.

At the 2004 Games in Athens, Radcliffe retired dehydrated. She missed the 2007 worlds after the birth of her daughter, Isla, in January of that year.

Now Beijing was to make up for all the hardship, but misfortune struck again. Radcliffe suffered from toe problems late last year and a stress fracture in her foot in May denied her any proper preparation for the big race.

Radcliffe readily admitted that the race was "one of the most frustrating" because the conditions could have not been any better for her, cool temperatures and an overcast sky after previous days and weeks with heat and humidity.

"The weather was fine," she said.

What was not fine was her left leg. Radcliffe hinted that the stress fracture may have played a role in the pain.

"It was really sore. It wasn't a sharp pain, I would have stopped if it was. I felt like running on one leg. It felt like it was coming from my foot," she said.

"I knew I was pushing it to come here," said Radcliffe in reference to the hampered buildup due to the injury.

Radcliffe shed a few tears after crossing the finish line. She was praised for having completed the race through the pain barrier and then, looking at the 38-year-old winner Constantina Tomescu, looked ahead.

There looms in four years time what would be the home Olympics for her in London, the very very last chance to get the elusive gold. Radcliffe will be 38 in 2012.

"It is definitely an issue. You saw today that you can win at the age of 38," she said.