Paula Radcliffe: London isn't my best chance for Olympic gold, but it’s still a chance
Paula Radcliffe insists that her disappointing performance in the Vienna half-marathon will not change anything about her preparation for the Olympics and, with 100 days to go until the start of the Games, her goal of winning a medal in London remains "realistic".
AP Photo-Michael Sohn
Speaking to MSN Sport, Radcliffe admitted: "Mentally and physically, it would have been much better to have run well. I had been training well but the performance [in Vienna] didn't reflect that at all. I wouldn't have run if I'd known things were going to be that bad."
Radcliffe had been suffering from a bout of bronchitis prior to the race but conceded pulling out of her duel with Ethiopian distance legend Haile Gebrselassie wasn't an option.
"The way the race was set up, it would have totally destroyed it for the organisers if I had pulled out," she explained. "With illness, you always feel like you're going to feel alright tomorrow. I'd been on two lots of antibiotics that I finished on Saturday (the day before the race). I was thinking I'd be over [the illness] but I found out very quickly in the race that I wasn't."
Radcliffe now faces a week of "real recovery" before heading off the Pyrenees where she will join up with the British team and start her full altitude build-up for the Olympics.
Paula's ambition to win a medal in front of her home crowd burns fiercely, but she's not placing as much pressure on herself as she admits doing in previous Games.
AP Photo-Ronald Zak
"You have to be realistic," Radcliffe explains. "When I went into the Olympics in 2004, I really felt like I should have won it. The whole aim was the gold medal. Now, being realistic, there are a lot of people who have run faster than me in the last couple of years. It's about being smart and getting myself into the best shape I possibly can. Either that's good enough or it isn't, but I will have given it my best shot.
"I know it's not my best chance in an Olympics but it still is a chance", she continues. "Past Olympics show, especially in the marathon, that it's not about who runs fastest [that season], it's about who gets it right on the day."
Atlhough Paula is now 38, she acknowledges age is no barrier to success in the marathon. In 2008 in Beijing, Romanian Constantina Dita struck gold in the Olympic marathon, also at the age of 38. Can Radcliffe replicate Dita's victory?
John Giles-PA Archive
"I think it's true that as you get older your endurance keeps improving whereas your speed might start to tail off. I'm not going to be running personal bests for 1,500 and 3,000 metres any more but I feel I can stay a lot closer to my marathon PB", says Radcliffe. "At this stage, I just want to get there healthy and race as well as I can."
For Radcliffe, the fact that the Olympics take place in London provides an allure of its own. The marathon will take place on a looped course that takes in many of the capital's most famous buildings and tourist sights.
Paula is looking forward to it: "It's a challenging course. I love that it finishes on The Mall. I like that it takes in lots of London's iconic landmarks. That makes it a special event instead of a run out to the stadium."
Would London 2012 have the same allure for Paula if she had already struck Olympic gold in Athens or Beijing? Would she even be competing? "If the Games weren't in London, possibly not," she muses. "But had I already won and the Games were in London, I'd still want to race. There probably wouldn't be the pressure on me from myself this time if I'd got it right in the past, but I'd definitely still want to do it."
Success at the Olympics isn't the only challenge in Paula's life. She works hard to juggle her training with her family commitments, but admits it isn't easy. "It is hard but it's also rewarding," she reveals. "But having a family is what I always wanted to do. I'm really proud of my family and they are a massive support for me. That alone makes sure you find ways to work things out and make sure the children always get every bit of attention and love that they need."
Errol Griffith-EMPICS Entertainment
Would she encourage her children Isla and Raphael to become professional runners? "I would just encourage them to get involved in all sports at this stage and keep involved in sport through their lives. What level they do it to would be totally up to them, but if they wanted to become professional runners I would totally support them. But I wouldn't push them, it's their choice."
But for now, the next generation of Radcliffe runners will have to wait. Come August, all eyes will be on mum as she tries to finally fulfill her Olympic dream.
More Olympics interviews on MSN Sport
- Gymnast Danusia Franics: I want to fulfil my Olympic dream
- Weightlifter Zoe Smith: I want some massive personal bests
- MSN Sport meets the GB women's handball team
- Diver Pete Waterfield's road to London 2012
Paula Radcliffe was speaking as a representative of Fairy's Dishes of Best Wishes campaign.
The first part of 'Dishes of Best Wishes' was a schools programme where children designed good luck messages on virtual dishes for their favourite team or athlete competing in the Games, with the public then voting for the favourite messages online. The winning school wins £10,000.
On 18 April, Paula is presenting the winning school with their prize plus launching the 'Dishes of Best Wishes' nationwide competition, asking people to show their support for Team GB by creating their own good luck messages on a virtual online dish.
Create your own message of support for your favourite Olympic athlete at http://www.facebook.com/fairydish
All wrong , This is a humble athlete who is more than capable of winning it........and i hope she does, having set a world record for the distance , whats the point of saying anything bad about her. Nothing the critics say has any substance to it, she is a decent human being who has a very good chance of victory. Lets not get like the media,
100 days to go before the worlds best athletes descend on London (I hope someone tells them that it is attached to the rest of England, because our politicians don't yet know)
100 days and already you people are posting negative comments about one of our all time greats. Paula Radcliffe may or may not win, we wont know until its over, but she has a realist chance and is there on merit. Those such as previous poster 52893 (did your parents not name you, or are you just ashamed to be named?) who say give new blood a chance obviously talk without ant knowledge of the subject. Everyone the length and breadth who wants to take part has a chance to qualify. if anyone was a better chance then Paula would have not been given a shot.
So come on people, stop being negative, for once stop slating people for the sake of it and lets try giving some support to the people representing you before the world. Heaven knows why some of you deserve to be represented in anything, let alone before the world at the worlds greatest sporting event.
How can she say that her chances are realistic of a medal? In the Olympic competitions she has competed in (remember Greece) she has struggled to even finish, so if she is taking the chance away from a more capable entrant she really should step down. At each major competition she has "suffered" from some problem that has prevented her from actually achieving a place in the top 5 let alone a podium place.
While I admire what she has done, it really is time for her to admit that hse is no longer competitive.
WOW how easy to criticise , a world record holder a failure , " gutless " "a cry baby" do you realise how hard top athelete's train and the sacrifices they make, sadly probably not .
Still i guess when your as successful as you all obviously are its hard for mere mortals like Paula radcliffe to live up to your high standards.
Especially that guy suggesting she "get a proper job'" and get a "BERGER " van its Burger you
F*** ing **** , i wonder what your job is , you probably applied to drive the gravy train your that stupid.
she's a has been... and prior to being that she was an appalling, gutless cry baby with a proven track record of not finishing races where she was struggling to bully other contestants.
Aside from that she's a thick moron. I'll never forget her ranting on after the 2002 Commonwealth Games about how the stadium should be kept as an athletics stadium because it was where she won her first major games medal...I I I, me me me... daft cow should've noted that Manchester would never have hosted the Commonwealth Games in the first place if MCFC hadn't agreed to move to the stadium after the games had finished.
Oh for heavens sake---Paula Radcliffe-is so interested in herself----it the same of riubbish shes talks every interview
We are absolutely fed up with it---how many Olympic medals has she won ...answer ZERO
makes you wonder with all the drug tests they have to take ???????????
anyway please stop reporting on a FAILURE !!!!!!!!!!-let concentrate on our wonderful hopefuls
Jessica Ennis and other real cnances PLEASE !!!!!!!
ive got a question, has paula radcliffe run the british qualifying time this year
like the other athletes had to. or has she been selected cos shes paula radcliffe ?