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Last Updated: Friday, 19 September, 2003, 15:46 GMT 16:46 UK
Cram: Time to trust Radcliffe
Steve Cram
By Steve Cram
BBC Sport

Let's get something straight here.

Some people have been saying that, if Paula Radcliffe is fit enough to run for money at the Nike 10K, Flora Challenge and Great North Run, she should have gone to the World Championships in Paris and tried to win a medal even if she couldn't win gold.

That's nonsense. Only people who don't understand what they're watching could think that.

Road running is very different from track competition. Deena Drossin had the world record for 5km on the road, but no-one would say she would ever win a world track title over 5,000m or 10,000m.

Paula Radcliffe smiles
Radcliffe has enjoyed an Indian summer on the roads
Paula knew before the Worlds that she hadn't done the sessions she needed to do, that she wasn't fit enough to run fast over 10,000m in Paris and still be around on the last lap when things got hard.

There was a chance she could have won a medal, but given that she had not fully recovered from injury, it was a risk that was too great to take.

We should trust Paula's judgement by now. Missing the Worlds was a very difficult decision for her to take, and she more than anyone else wanted to run in Paris.

She had trained for it and wanted desperately to be there - but sometimes you have to take the long term view, and she had to think about next summer's Olympics.

It was more important that she got herself fit, and then, when she felt right, run a few races in the autumn.

It's odd that people put road and track racing in the same bracket. They are so different.

When you're running well you can run well in both, but you can't assume that just because you are running well on the roads that makes you a great track athlete.

There are lots of great track athletes who wouldn't get close to Paula on the roads.

It's horses for courses - Paula is one of the few who can do both to a very high level, but to go to a major championships without the speed that track work gives you simply wouldn't work.

These road races are not at the same level of competition as the Worlds.

What we're looking at here is a confidence booster. After you've missed as many races as Paula, you want to be reassured that you still have what it takes.

All athletes are fragile creatures. Even Paula needed to come back and run a few good races so she could say to herself - right, I'm in good nick, now I've got something to build on for the Olympics next year.

Links to more World Athletics 2003 stories


Rivals hunt Radcliffe scalp
19 Sep 03  |  Athletics
New record for Radcliffe
14 Sep 03  |  Athletics


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