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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 April, 2003, 21:55 GMT 22:55 UK
Is Paula the greatest?
Paula Radcliffe smashes her own world record to win the London Marathon in two hours 15 mins and 25 seconds.

Is she Britain's greatest athlete?

Paula had a phenomenal start and led throughout the 26 mile course.

She smashed her previous best set at last year's Chicago Marathon and was nearly five minutes ahead of nearest rival Catherine Ndereba.


The London Marathon has proved itself to be a fast course and can now claim to be one of the greatest races in the world.

Is Paula the greatest ever British athlete? And is the London Marathon the best in the world?


This debate is now closed. See below for a selection of your e-mails.


Paula is more than 'the best athlete' she is a Goddess. May the rest of the athletics world bow to her feet; she has done it again-well done!
Barry Knight, Bristol

A fantastic run, tarnished by the use of male pacemakers. At this moment in time Radcliffe is the best British marathon runner, and she deserves all the plaudits we can give her, but she needs an Olympic Medal to be considered great.
Alasdair, Marlow, UK

Well done, Paula. You're an example to all of the young (and old) people today. Your hard work and perseverance always pay off because of your professionalism and dedication. Take a well-earned bow!
Gill Wright, Hong Kong

What an inspiration!
Sarah Storer, Wirral
I was in awe last October when Paula broke the record in Chicago. That confirmed her as our best ever athlete in my opinion, and now I reckon there is no argument. Each time she runs a marathon I think she has started too quickly and will fade, and each time she maintains or increases the pace all the way to the finish. Unbelievable! She brings tears to my eyes. We should all look to Paula for inspiration in whatever we do.
John Edgcombe, Edinburgh

What an inspiration! You have inspired me to keep running my humble 10 min miles. Thank you for being such a great person!
Sarah Storer, Wirral

Paula Radcliffe - marry me! You are the best.
Dave, Preston

Your strength, will and focus over a marathon distance is truly amazing and to surpass your own records is phenomenal. Well done
Aaron, Hampshire

Some readers have stated that Paula won the London Marathon with help or assistance in the form of a pacemaker (some may have the perception that he 'pulls' the athlete to a new speed). This may be true for shorter distances, but to anyone who has experience of long-distance gruelling effort and steadfast endurance in a long run, realises that this is simply not the case.

Paula ran her own race right from the start as she did in Chicago, gradually gaining ground away from her competition. One cannot suddenly speed up because of a pacemaker in this event; one has to run within oneself in order to have something left when the glucose is burnt up.

Paula Radcliffe is such a dedicated runner that she would have run 2:15 without the pacemakers. And besides, correct me if I'm off base here but the idea of the pacemakers was to ratify the result as a world record in a mixed event. 26.2 miles is 26.2 miles and it should not matter the gender!

All the best to Paula in the future, I think she will blow our socks off again.
Keith Oliver, USA

Paula is proving every time that there are no limits. She is by far England's greatest runner and we should all take great pride in her victories.
Nick Crabtree, Cairo, Egypt

There's only one word for you, Paula, wow!
Jo, Manchester, UK
There's only one word for you, Paula, wow! You are truly an inspiration to me and so many others. I really want to get into athletics after watching you (I'm 16) and I send you my warmest congratulations with all my heart.
Jo, Manchester, U.K.

Paula is not only Britain's greatest athlete today but she is one of the world's greatest athlete of all time.
Jared Fry, Wales

In an age of over-hyped over-paid sport stars, Paula Radcliffe is the real thing. Top class and truly the best.
Ted Hemsley, UK

Paula Radcliffe truly is the greatest runner of all time in my opinion. Someone for the British to be thoroughly proud of.
Lizzie Jack, Harrogate, North Yorkshire

Fantastic achievement from Paula. She not only won, but in doing so, totally eclipsed the men's race.
Steve, UK

Paula is proving every time that there are no limits. She is by far England's greatest runner and we should all take great pride in her victories.
Nick Crabtree, Cairo, Egypt

Paula Radcliffe truly is the greatest runner of all time in my opinion
Lizzie Jack, Harrogate, North Yorkshire
There's only one word for you, Paula, wow! You are truly an inspiration to me and so many others. I really want to get into athletics after watching you (I'm 16) and I send you my warmest congratulations with all my heart.
Jo, Manchester, U.K.

Paula is not only Britain's greatest athlete today but she is one of the Worlds greatest athlete of all time.
Jared Fry, Wales

In an age of over- hyped over-paid sport stars, Paula Radcliffe is the real thing. Top class and truly the best.
Ted Hemsley, UK

Paula Radcliffe truly is the greatest runner of all time in my opinion. Someone for the British to be thoroughly proud of.
Lizzie Jack, Harrogate, North Yorkshire

Fantastic achievement from Paula. She not only won, but in doing so, totally eclipsed the men's race.
Steve, UK

Marvellous to have a British world-class athlete in Paula Radcliffe. We can all be proud of her.
Graham, Southport, England

Well done Paula for your courage and tenacity. Keep up the good work.
Helen Harrhy, Hereford

I am 14 and find Paula a real inspiration!
Rachel Riding-Felce, Bedfordshire
Astonishing and breathtaking! She has become the "Michael Johnson" of Marathon running. Her competitors are only competing for the second spot! Awesome running!
Tim Abernethy, England

Well what can you say? A magical performance. If she is not Britain's greatest athlete I don't know who is!
Farnoosh Skeldon, England

I am 14 and find Paula a real inspiration! I also used to suffer from asthma but still hope to go on and do well in athletics as Paula is doing. Well done you are amazing!
Rachel Riding-Felce, Bedfordshire

Well done Paula! You truly are an inspiration to us all and one of the finest sports persons to have ever taken a sport by the teeth and prove your ability. You've inspired me to run next year!
Mark Clarke, Hampshire

She has proved herself to be the greatest woman marathon runner
Jason, UK
Today I witnessed another magnificent performance, by one of the world's truly great athletes. Many congratulations to you Paula, you deserved nothing less.
Alan Leech, Thurrock

Paula did a wonderful job in a beautiful race finishing in an amazing time! My congratulations to a great athlete. All the others (who finished or even who had the courage to stop) did a wonderful job!!
John, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Firstly to those people who think using pacemakers are wrong. Most of the track world records have been broken using pacemakers. Do they think these are artificial! People should praise Paula not demean her achievements.

She has proved herself to be the greatest woman marathon runner. If people reckon she needs to achieve golds at the worlds and Olympics to claim to be the greatest they wont have long to wait, with the way she is running.

Come on Paula!!
Jason, UK

Paula is no doubt the Greatest British and World Female Distance Runner, this she has already proved. She has had her disappointments in the past, but by sheer hard work, sacrifice, guts and determination has bounced back.

You only have to look at her performances over the last 18 months all wins (except a 3K 2nd) against the top world class athletes, surely enough to convince any doubters she is the GREATEST.

Sadly England has few truly great female sports personalities, so let's all give Paula the credit she deserves. Well done Paula another fantastic performance, we will always support you as we have done for over 13 years. You are the GREATEST!
John & Jack, Wraysbury, Nr. Staines, England

Paula is certainly the only British sportsperson who could legitimately claim to be the best in the world at present
Ben, Bristol
Paula has had three GREAT marathon results. But our best athlete ever? Not a chance, she has not yet shown the durability of Redgrave, Christie, Edwards or Backley. She's great but not the best...yet.
Dave, N Ireland

In a time when women, young and old, have so very few real role models, Paula has proved that we can achieve anything we want if we just try.

The problem with success is that it's often disguised as hard work and I am thankful that finally we have a truly inspirational person to admire and to show us that we can't just wait around for luck to find us.

Her achievement yesterday was simply amazing. She is a true inspiration to all Britons and athletes worldwide. Thank you Paula - and well done!!
Anna, North Worcs

Paula is certainly the only British sportsperson who could legitimately claim to be the best in the world at present. She needs to win those elusive world and Olympic golds to be classified as our greatest ever athlete.

I have absolutely no doubt that she will do so. I can't wait for Paris in August where I will be cheering her on from the stands. Another world record beckons.
Ben, Bristol

Fantastic! Paula was awesome, an inspiration to everyone with her attitude and unbelievable performance. Even if she wins world & Olympic gold, it will be her will to win despite previous disappointment that people will remember.

What a fantastic ambassador for British sport.
Robert, Muswell Hill

Criticism of Paula for using pacemakers is ridiculous - they're not a magic carpet and she still has to run these awesome times.

She's taken women's distance running to a different plane and exploded myths about what is possible in her events. The medals will come. An absolute inspiration to runners everywhere.
Nigel, Stirling

How can anyone say that Paula won the Marathon (and broke the record) "with assistance"? Did the pacemakers carry her? No.

This standard must be kept up for a while longer before she can be considered our greatest ever
Andrew Elliott, Glossop
Did any of the other runners manage to keep up with her? No.

She won the race and achieved the time that she did simply through her own strength and stamina.

All the pacemakers do is show a target for the other runners to achieve. If Paula wasn't up to doing the pace that was being set, then she wouldn't have run at the pace she did, would she?

Well done Paula!
Mick Hawkes,

Paula is certainly a remarkable athlete and one about whom we Brits can be rightly proud. But this standard must be kept up for a while longer and with some gold medals from World Championships & Olympic Games, before she can be considered our greatest ever.

However, unlike some contributors, I see little wrong with the use of pacemakers: it is quite clear that no woman athlete can keep up with her and push her to ever faster times - should history see her in a lesser light just because no other woman can push her to produce her best?
Andrew Elliott, Glossop, Derbyshire

Paula is undoubtedly an excellent athlete.

Her male pace maker was ushered to the side at the end surely this counts as 'fixing' the result.

If she's allowed a male pace maker because they can't find other women who can run fast enough are the men going to be allowed someone on roller skates?
Andy Davies, Glos, UK

Two words: Steven Redgrave. Radcliffe may be the latest sensation, but I doubt she will be doing it for the next 2 decades.

For Redgrave, voted the greatest ever Olympian, to be even questioned as our greatest ever athlete beggars belief.
Tom Percival, Nottingham

Paula is an excellent athlete but to even ask whether she is the greatest athlete is madness. At the moment Paula has not got an Olympic medal of any description and she has not won gold in the world championships. Only time will tell whether Paula can sort this out. Also, it is a disgrace that pace makers are used to help world record attempts - this should not be allowed.
Robert, Richmond, Surrey

Paula is all the more remarkable, if indeed that is possible, as her grace and charm remain utterly in tact
Ross Robertson, Abergavenny
I had to pull out due to injury, but I got the pleasure of seeing Paula run through Greenwich, going like a hare! It brought tears to my eyes. Just fantastic, and it has given me the boost to try again next year. Well done Paula. Best wishes, John.
John Kelly, Shooters Hill

At last! A British heroine exuding a truly astonishing blend of grit and determination, together with grace and charm. Paula is all the more remarkable, if indeed that is possible, by virtue of the fact that, despite the best efforts of the world's media to find some flaw in her armour, yet her grace and charm remain utterly in tact. She is without doubt our greatest latter day Briton.
Ross Robertson, Abergavenny

The record speaks for itself, she is the best in the world much less in England. They had to use male pacesetters because they can't find a female fast enough to pace her!
Dennis Murphy, Baltimore, Maryland

I don't understand the 'outrage' over the male pacemakers. Paula should be allowed to run to her full potential. If a male pacemaker is the only way to achieve this, so bit it. She's just too good for women to pace her. Congratulations on another record and good luck for Paris. I know who I'll be voting for come Sports Personality of the Year.
Sarah L, UK

Absolutely marvellous. I got up early this morning to follow Paula on the Internet. Who would ever have thought that the woman's world record would fall, drug free, by more than five minutes in only three years?

And that the woman's world record is now only 9 min. 47 sec. behind the men? And that this would all be done by the marvelous, magnificent, brave Paula Radcliffe? Hurrah! Hurrah! I am off for a run of my own...
Hugo Schwyzer, California, USA

The best thing about Paula is seeing an honest, decent and likeable athlete achieve the transition from seeming perpetual loser (all those 4th places!) to unchallengeable and phenomenal champion. If Paula's not the greatest female distance runner of all time, I'd like to know who is.
David, London

After years of being a valiant loser, she has found the key to success
Ian Seddon, Milton Keynes, UK
When the papers focus on football (because of greedy sponsors and here today, gone tomorrow fashion) the real sports fans focus on the true tests of ability. Paula has shown London and the World that once again she is, without any shadow of a doubt, Sports Personality of the Year. That she has achieved such a memorable victory as a "Clean Athlete" reminds us all that truth is always the best policy. Paula is Great Britain's best ambassador!
Paul GROVES, Deal

I watched in awe, again. After Chicago, where the old record was smashed, she has moved the target by another huge margin. After years of being a valiant loser, she has found the key to success. Long may she reign!!
Ian Seddon, Milton Keynes, UK

Well done - have been tuned into the Internet trying to follow the race - as it's not shown over here. Paula is the best distance runner ever!!!!
Duncan, Melbourne Australia

To watch Paula makes you want to be young again - pure magic.
Joe, Jersey Channel Islands

I had tears streaming down my face as you crossed the line
Shelley, Kent

What can I say? I watched your simply outstanding achievement this morning after my very modest Sunday morning run. I cried tears of joy for you as you crossed the line.

I have done three London marathons in 1989/1990 and 1991 and my best time was 3hr 27mins at the age of 46 so I trod every step of the way and breathed every one of your breaths!!!!!!!

You are quite simply the tops and I take my hat - and running shoes - off to you. Go away and enjoy your three week break - you really deserve it. Good wishes for all your future plans.
Rosemary Grover, Andover

I had tears streaming down my face as you crossed the line today. You deserve it all, you train so very hard. Thanks to the Paula team too who must help you so much. You are an inspiration.
Shelley, Kent

Our nation's finest and proudest sporting achievement and you deserve it 110%!
John Page, Cambridge

We're so proud of you - roll on Athens!
Gillian, Portadown, Northern Ireland

As an ex-pat and still active athlete at 66, all I can say is well done! We're proud of you.
Laurence Essery, Tunisia

Well done Paula, we are all so proud of you. A real star! From all the runners and the office team at The Shooting Star Trust Children's Hospice.
Dalton Leong, Epsom, Surrey

Well done Paula! We're so proud of you - roll on Athens!
Gillian, Portadown, Northern Ireland

I have a great deal of difficulty accepting the way Paula Radcliffe 'won' the London Marathon Mixed Race.

It was, in my view, not in keeping with the spirit that has built up over the years of the marathon, a spirit pioneered by the late great Chris Brasher.

Her performance represents a revolution in women's distance running
Peter, Lancs., England

If it was a women's race then only women should have competed. If it was a mixed race then the male pacemaker should have been allowed to win it and not shepherded to one side to allow Radcliffe to win. Radcliffe would then have been second.

I think the records should show that Radcliffe won the race 'with assistance'.
Alan Wright, France

She truly is amazing and her performance represents a revolution in women's distance running.
Peter, Lancs., England

Another awesome performance from Paula. There are great athletes and then there are those who are so extraordinary that they transform their sport forever.
Mark F., UK

What an unforgettable achievement I was in tears... The last time that happened was in 1974 when my daughter was born. Be proud United Kingdom!!!
Arjen Berger, Holland

You are the first athlete who made me so much interested in athletics. I wish you all the best in your career. You are the best.
Ali Ataullah, Pakistan

They've found a replacement for Concorde - Paula!
Jon, Cambridge

Brilliant, I got up this morning, put on the telly, and then just watched Paula, mesmerised by her performance. And at 12.30pm I was still in my dressing gown & thinking I should really get dressed, but watching all participants, was so awe inspiring. What words can describe the London Marathon?
Derek Newman, Newton Abbot, Devon

Paula, you are an inspiration. Some of the greatest memories of my recently ended stint in the UK are of your incredible performances and, of course, Brendan Foster almost wetting himself with excitement every time you stepped on to the track or road. He must have been beside himself today!
Annette, Melbourne, Australia

They've found a replacement for Concorde - Paula!
Jon, Cambridge

In this awful world it's heartening to see what can be achieved by true human spirit; Paula is an inspiration to us all.
Bob Hogg, Thirsk, North Yorkshire

I was out of breath all the way with you
Steve Dunhill, Derby

A fabulous performance. As an exiled Brit, I'm proud of you!
John Wells, Boston Massachussetts, USA

If you've been inspired by Paula's amazing race today you might be interested in the once in a lifetime chance to compete against her in a special 1km race at the Cadbury Get Active day on 8th June at the Birmingham NEC.

To be in with a chance of running with the nation's favourite world record breaker check out our website.
Emma Catty, London

I must say a great big well done. You made it look easy; I was out of breath all the way with you. It certainly made being at work more interesting. Well done again!!!
Steve Dunhill, Derby

Radcliffe is one of the most inspiring athletes of today. Not only did I watch her today with awe and admiration, I felt as though I was running it with her.

She has an amazing ability to fulfil her ambitions and overcome obstacles that are in her way. Her drive and determination, as well as her good nature are most certainly what earned her "BBC Sports Personality of the year".
Lucy Porter, Solihull

You thoroughly deserve your place in athletics history
Mahendra, Wolverhampton

To say that Paula is an inspiration to all women is an understatement -she is an inspiration to all potential runners.
Robert Webster, Glasgow

If she wins the Olympic Gold she will be in good standing for the greatest ever British Athlete.
Andy, Plymouth

Congrats to Paula and it's a shame she won't be coming back to Chicago this fall to defend her title.
Bill Quigley, Chicago, USA

When I used to watch you in the past, and lose near the end I felt for you! However, over the last few years you have proved that gutsy front running does have a place in long distance running.

It certainly isn't the easiest option - but you have proved you have the determination to win through. All the best! You thoroughly deserve your place in athletics history.
Mahendra, Wolverhampton

A historical moment in distance running
Daniel B. Tedla, USA/Ethiopian
Paula Radcliffe is truly one of Britain's best athletes of our time, male or female. Time after time she has broken records in various races, whether it be on the track or on the road. She is truly remarkable.
Alun Rees, Leytonstone

Great performance by Paula. And you just can't beat the buzz of the London marathon - the best by a long way.
Chris , Preston, UK

Great! A historical moment in distance running and also a great achievement for Paula and for drug free sport . Thumb high!
Daniel B. Tedla, USA/Ethiopian

There are no words to describe this 'super-human darling' lady of marathon running. She is simply outstanding and an indescribable miracle of God.
Hugh Huntington, Brussels

Congratulations to one of the greatest runners ever - and an inspiration to all of us!
Hugh, Lancashire

I think that your record is really cool! You are my absolute favourite runner - I am very inspired by all your records.
Zoe Pit, Wimbledon

You honour England, and all her people worldwide. Congratulations on your amazing result, your strategy, and your strong mind. My only wish is that I could have lent my encouragement for you (screamed my lungs out!) out on the course.
Robert winters, Westfield, New Jersey USA

Britain can be well and truly proud of Paula. She is a great athlete and deserves all the credit.
Ralph Phillips, Israel

Paula, That is fantastic. I am sorry I could not be there to pace you (only kidding-56 this year!)
John Townend, Vanuatu in the South Pacific

The answer to the question "Is Paula the greatest?" is a foregone conclusion
Stephen, Jersey, C.I.
As expected, nice to see a Brit Bouncing Back! A+ Couldn't see the race live but the BBC Sport's web page superb for us Brits overseas!
Ron Hannah, At work in Iran

What an absolutely terrific piece of running. Paula is a superb athlete and well deserves this record.
Terry McKnight, Eccles, Manchester, UK

Congratulations to Paula on a wonderful race. They say that actions speak louder than words. Therefore, the answer to the question "Is Paula the greatest?" is a foregone conclusion.
Stephen, Jersey, C.I.

Whenever Paula runs, she makes me proud to be British. She is one of the best athletes in the history of the sport.
James Sheppard, Ipswich, Suffolk

Your commitment and dedication has been an inspiration to many people over the last year or so, your level headed approach is also very refreshing indeed to watch Well done on the World Record, a superb achievement
Edward Harwood, East Grinstead, West Sussex

Undoubtedly a fantastic performance by Paula a world class athlete, we should all be proud of.
Louise Richards, Exeter

Paula is an inspiration to all British female (and male) athletes. She has done the unthinkable and proved that the Kenyans can be beaten if you believe in yourself and work hard to achieve your goals. Well done Paula!
Toni, Stirling

That was great performance. Hope you can sustain the magic that was overcoming you... looking forward to see you "running like hell" what a gorgeous sight it was.
Rob Geurtsen, Vienna - Austria

I would not say the greatest, but Paula probably stands equal top with Steve Redgrave
Wyatt, Canterbury, England
Paula is an amazing athlete. I watched her highs and lows over the years but certainly in the last few years her races have been spectacular to watch. Congratulations Paula!
Mervyn Bloch, London

How refreshing to see a Brit with grit at the top! Well done Paula, you are the greatest.
J, Littlehampton, Sussex

Last year was the highlight of my year and I said you should be given the BBC sports personality award there and then. You really have become one of the best British sportspersons ever.

Your efforts are fantastic and long may they continue. You never changed your leading from the front after Sydney and you should be commended for that. The Queen should be giving you a call in the next few days. Instant Knighthood. Go for it girl.
Andrew Swan, Brazil (a Scot)

Formidable! Such a perfect example of dedication and commitment and what can be achieved with both. Awesome run Paula!
Will Parker, Newport, South Wales

I would not say the greatest, but Paula probably stands equal top with Steve Redgrave. Training almost to their physical limits coupled with a will to win makes Steve and Paula an example to us all. Our England footballers should take note!
Wyatt, Canterbury, England

Paula Radcliffe is a phenomenal athlete. In an area of athletics dominated by African athletes, her fearless dedication and sacrifice are a stunning example we should all strive to emulate in the pursuit of our goals, athlete or no.
William Ryder Timberlake, Indiana, USA

Well done - simply the best.
Rob, London





Links to more Grandstand: Have Your Say stories


 

VOTE RESULTS
Is Paula Radcliffe Britain's greatest ever athlete?
Yes
 68.00% 
No
 32.00% 
1153 Votes Cast
Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

FIVE LIVE IMAGE

 


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