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Britain's Paula Radcliffe
"I guess I just left it too late"
 real 56k

banner Wednesday, 8 August, 2001, 11:45 GMT 12:45 UK
Radcliffe rues another near miss
Paula Radcliffe
Radcliffe reflects on another heroic failure in Edmonton
BBC Sport Online profiles Paula Radcliffe, who continues to be the nearly-woman of British athletics after another heartbreak in the Worlds at Edmonton.

What wouldn't Paula Radcliffe give to shake off her tag as the plucky but unlucky Brit of world athletics?

Wherever the sport is followed around the globe, she is known for her series of near-misses at the highest level.

But can Radcliffe ever have been more plucky and more unlucky than she was in the final of the 10,000m in Edmonton?

It is a journalistic cliche but, if there were gold medals for guts and determination, Radcliffe would be World and Olympic champion.


I gave it everything I could have done, but I couldn't drop the Ethiopians
  Paula Radcliffe

The 27-year-old from Cheshire went to the line at the World Athletics Championships with genuine title aspirations.

"I'm in the best shape I could possibly be in - looking back at what I've done, there's no stone I've left unturned," she said.

At last summer's Olympics she led at a blistering pace for almost the whole race, only to be out-kicked on the final lap and finish fourth.

In the searing heat of Seville she had done the same, and took silver behind Gete Wami in the 1999 World Championships.

Overtaken

This time Radcliffe varied her tactics and made her burst for glory with just over three laps to go.

But again she could not shake off a trio of Ethiopians and was overtaken at the bell.

Olympic champion Derartu Tulu completed a personal golden double with Berhane Adere finishing second.

Wami, the reigning world champion who edged Radcliffe out of the medals in Sydney, did the same again, getting just the better of her in a desperate dash for bronze.

Paula Radcliffe
Fourth place was followed by a row with her husband
More heartache was to follow as Radcliffe crossed the line and the scoreboard showed her finishing third.

She looked around for confirmation, but after an anxious wait it was amended and confirmed that the Briton had indeed come fourth.

"To put it up on the scoreboard for a few seconds was cruel," Radcliffe said.

And, if that was not enough, she then had a furious row with her husband and coach Gary Lough over the tactics she had used.

"Gary thought I should have gone sooner," Radcliffe said.

"Everyone gets caught up in the emotions of the event but maybe that was not the right time for him to tell me."

Apologised

Lough later said sorry to his wife and cuddled her as she gave interviews to the media.

"Paula is the runner and she makes the decisions, and I have apologised to her," he said.

When she does return home, Radcliffe will have the consolation of world cross-country and road-running titles with which to review her year.

She also holds a fistful of British, European and Commonwealth records.

But, after the disappointment of Sydney, this track success was what she wanted from 2001 and there was no attempt to hide it.


I hope I am stronger for this experience and I am learning all the time
  Paula Radcliffe

"I am disappointed," she said having finished in 31mins 50.06secs, 1:23.09 outside her personal best.

"I thought I could run a lot faster and I knew I had to try something different.

"I gave it everything I could have done, but I couldn't drop the Ethiopians."

There was more than a suspicion that she suffered from some debatable team tactics as the four Ethiopian finalists made life difficult for her throughout the race.

"I had Tulu clicking my heels," she said. "I knew they would run as a team and, when I went, they gathered behind me."

But Radcliffe was making no excuses and, in the style that has endeared her to spectators and journalists, she declared her determination to soldier on.

"This is definitely not my last 10,000m race in a World Championship - I still think I can beat Tulu on the track and I will keep trying," she said.

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