Radcliffe in tears as Olympic dream ends
A foot problem has ruled Paula Radcliffe out of the women's marathon
A heartbroken Paula Radcliffe has revealed the extent of her despair after her dreams of making up for previous bitter Olympic disappointments on home soil in the women's marathon were extinguished.
On Sunday, Radcliffe formally withdrew from the event at London 2012 after admitting defeat in her battle against a degenerative foot problem, which cruelly resurfaced just a few weeks ago.
The 38-year-old had been hoping to claim a first Olympic medal in her fifth Games, having finished fifth in the 5,000m in Atlanta, fourth in the 10,000m in Sydney and suffering despair in the marathon in 2004 and 2008.
In Athens, Radcliffe was an overwhelming favourite but was forced to drop out less than five miles from the finish after a debilitating stomach problem, while in Beijing the after-effects of a stress fracture of the femur saw her finish a lowly 23rd.
Although her Olympic career is now over, Radcliffe insists she will carry on running as UK Athletics head coach Charles van Commenee urged people to remember she remains the world record holder for the marathon and was world champion over the distance in 2005.
"I have been through the mill emotionally and physically the past three weeks, cried more tears than ever, vented more frustration and at the same time calmly tried every direction and avenue available to heal myself," Radcliffe said. "Now is the time to rest totally, give my body chance to recover and assess calmly what can be done and where I go from here.
"It is hard to know that had the Olympics been six weeks earlier I could have gone out there and run confidently knowing that I was in the best shape I had been in for a while, but I am by no means the first to experience something like this. No-one tells us in advance where the limits of our own bodies lie, and pushing these limits is the only way we can ever achieve our highest goals and dreams.
"As desperate as I was to be part of the amazing experience of the London Olympics, I don't want to be there below my best. If I can't be there and give it my best, then I would rather someone else who can do that is able to be there."
Radcliffe added: "From the day when it was announced that London had won the bid, taking part and performing well in the London Olympic Games has been a major goal in my life.
"The goal of a fifth Olympics in my home country, what better? The chance to make amends to myself for bitter disappointments at the previous two Olympics. Through a lot of tough times it has kept me fighting, motivated and focused. That is why it hurts so much to finally admit to myself that it isn't going to happen."