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  Monday, 23 April, 2001, 11:39 GMT 12:39 UK
New era awaits Radcliffe
Paula Radcliffe
Radcliffe celebrates her World Cross-County title
By BBC Sport Online's Tom Fordyce

Britain's Paula Radcliffe, world half-marathon and cross-country champion, will make her eagerly-awaited Flora London Marathon debut in the 2002 race.

Radcliffe had been expected to move up to marathon distance for some time, but the exact timing of her decision was open to question.

At 27 she is approaching the right age to make the switch.

As British record holder over 5000m and 10,000m she has enjoyed considerable success - but has never won the major international gold medal her bravery deserves.

Radcliffe wins the 2000 World Half-Marathon
Radcliffe wins the 2000 World Half-Marathon
In last year's Olympic 10,000m she led for most of the race, only to be overtaken late on by Ethiopia's Derartu Tulu and Gete Wami.

Despite setting a new British and Commonwealth mark with 30:27.13mins, she could only finish fourth, and walked off the track in tears.

It was a similar story at the 1999 World Championships, where she put in a magnificent front-running performance in searingly hot conditions only to be out-sprinted on the final lap by Wami.

The fact that old foe Tulu won this year's Flora London Marathon may have been an additional factor in Radcliffe's decision.

Radcliffe's attritional style will be well suited to the longer distance.

Her lack of a final lap kick, which has cost her dear on so many occasions, will be less of a handicap over 26.2 miles.

Instead her ability to force the pace and keep it up there will be more important.

Radcliffe set a European half-marathon record of 67:07mins to win the 2000 Great North Run, three minutes ahead of former London Marathon winner Tegla Loroupe.

She also took the World half-marathon title the same year by an impressive 33 seconds - which, even ignoring the humidity she endured at Veracruz, Mexico, bodes extremely well for her chances in the full event.

Whenever it is stamina rather than sheer speed which is the major factor at work in a race, Radcliffe has come out on top.

Paula Radcliffe
Radcliffe's dedication in training will aid her switch
In this year's World Cross-Country Championships, run in ankle-deep mud, she held off the challenge of Wami to take her first world title.

Tulu put her success this year down to concentrating on the marathon at the expense of the cross-country season.

Radcliffe would find it difficult to give up her favourite discipline - but the greater financial rewards of the marathon, in addition to the fact that she now has the world cross-county title that she wanted so badly, may persuade her to follow Tulu's example.

Tulu herself intends to combine marathons with running 10,000m at the big international meets.

At the World Championships in Edmonton this summer she will concentrate on the 10K at the expense of the marathon, so to call time on Radcliffe's career on the track is premature.

As Paul Tergat found out on Sunday, it takes even the very best 10,000m runners two or three marathons to get a feel for the distance.

Because of this, Radcliffe will see London as a trial run while continuing with her efforts on the track.


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30 Sep 00 | Athletics-Track
Links to more London Marathon stories are at the foot of the page.


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