|Despite a long career Paula Radcliffe has never made an impact on the Olympic stage [GALLO/GETTY]|
After four disappointments on sport’s biggest stage, marathon world-record holder Paula Radcliffe is targeting her first Olympic medal after making Britain’s team for next year’s London Games.
Less than three months after she completed her first marathon in two years, Radcliffe on Tuesday became one of the first three track and field competitors picked by the host nation.
Radcliffe will be 38 by the time the Olympics come to town but said she will be a genuine contender for gold if she stays fit.
After all, she’s never lost over the distance in London.
“I don’t think I’m going in with as strong a chance as 2004 or 2008,” Radcliffe said.
“It’s going to be very hard but I do think it’s possible.”
After finishing out of the medal positions in the 5,000 in 1996 and the 10,000 in 2000, Radcliffe has been thwarted in her efforts to round out a stellar career with the Olympic title.
In 2004 in Athens, she withdrew three miles from the finish because of a stomach problem. She was then diagnosed with a stress fracture in her left femur three months before the 2008 Beijing Games and limped to the line in 23rd place.
Banishing Olympic demons
Marathon world champion in 2005, a three-time winner of the London Marathon and a three-time marathon champion in New York, Radcliffe is now training with a view to banishing those memories.
“I have become – not totally philosophical and laid-back about it – but a bit more relaxed about it,” Radcliffe said.
“I’ve seen ups and downs and I’ve had a long career. I’m able to step back and be thankful for the success I’ve had.
“But part of me still hopes there is a little luck owed to me in terms of staying healthy.”
Radcliffe completed her first marathon in two years in September’s Berlin Marathon and was picked Tuesday alongside fellow marathon runners Mara Yamauchi and Scott Overall.
“I wouldn’t say I’m flying and ready to go out and set records, but I’m improving and probably a bit ahead of where we thought I’d be”
After a series of injuries and a 19-month break in which she had her second child, Radcliffe ran 2 hours, 23 minutes, 46 seconds in Berlin to make the British qualifying standard. It was her fastest time in four years, but 8:21 slower than the world record she set in 2003 in New York.
Radcliffe said she won’t now run again over 26.2 miles until the London 2012 road race but may try for a 10,000 run in Monaco this weekend as she continues to push herself.
“I wouldn’t say I’m flying and ready to go out and set records, but I’m improving and probably a bit ahead of where we thought I’d be,” Radcliffe said.
After a stop-start few years, Radcliffe is happy with where she is.
“To represent your country at a home Olympics is something special and I’m over the moon to be selected for Team GB,” Radcliffe said.
“I was pleased to get the qualifying time in Berlin earlier this year and my sole focus is getting in the right shape for London.
“I’m just fully concentrating on being fully prepared for next year.”