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Last Updated: Sunday, 22 August, 2004, 17:45 GMT 18:45 UK
Marathon as it happened
All the action as it happened as Paula Radcliffe's Olympic dream came to a tearful end in Athens.

1600 BST
The race got underway as the runners left the tiny village of Marathon.

Race favourite Radcliffe was wearing a grey cap and dark sunglasses to shield her from heat.

The sun was blazing down from a cloudless sky and the pace over the first half a mile is steady as a result.

She spent the last few minutes before the race wearing an ice vest to keep her body temperature down.

Mile One
Radcliffe was already at the front of the large pack, with her British team-mates Liz Yelling and Tracey Morris close by.

Mile Two
Radcliffe continued to sit at the front of the main group.

Mile Three
The pace remained steady as the leading athletes go through the five kilometre mark in just over 17 minutes.

The race was beginning to stretch out as the heat takes its toll.

Mile Four
The support for Radclife on the course was excellent. The route was lined with cheering spectators and the Union flags are out in force.

Mile Five
Radcliffe was beginning to step up the pace. She was making sure she takes enough fluid on board, picking up her labelled bottles from the drinks stations.

Mile Six
The leading group went through in 34.14 minutes - well below Radcliffe's world record but still a scorching pace given the conditions.

Britain's Liz Yelling was two minutes back, with Tracey Morris a further 35 seconds adrift.

Mile Seven
The leading runners were able to find some shade on the edge of the course as the sun began to dip down behind the taller buildings.

Mile Eight
The leading group was down to ten athletes as Ethiopia's Asha Gigi dropped out with a stomach upset. But all the other leading contenders were there - Radcliffe, Okayo and Ndereba.

Mile Nine
The course was beginning to climb and the pace was fractionally slowing.

The last five kilometres took 17 minutes 45 seconds, compared to 17 mins 15 secs for the previous 5K.

Mile 10
Radcliffe was sticking to the very outside of the road as the course climbed. She looked confortable but there is no sign of the other nine athletes being dropped.

Mile 11
The three Japanese athletes were looking very strong. The pace was around five and a half minutes per mile, which put them on course for around 2 hours 27 minutes.

Mile 12
The first big name was dropped from the leading group as Margaret Okayo, the winner of this year's London Marathon, struggled to handle to pace up the hills.

Mile 13
It was former world record holder Catherine Ndereba's turn to suffer. She too was finding it hard to hang on to the leading group which included Radcliffe.

They went through halfway in one hour 14 minutes two seconds, 13 minutes off Radcliffe's world record pace.

Mile 14
The pace slowed up and both Okayo and Ndereba got back into the main group.

Mile 15
Radcliffe continued to lead but it is Ethiopia's Elfenesh Alemu who looked most comfortable.

Mile 16
Concern for Paula as Alemu and Noguchi made a break. The gap grew quickly to 15 metres as Radcliffe appeared to be struggling.

Mile 17
Radcliffe was hanging on for dear life as Ndereba too went past her. She was having a bad period and needed to recover fast.

Mile 18
Noguchi kicked on and left Alemu behind her. Radcliffe was battling hard and had re-taken third from Ndereba.

Mile 19
Noguchi was staying out in front and Paula was struggling to make any inroads.

Noguchi had put in a five kilometre burst of 16 minutes 50 seconds, the fastest by far in the whole race, and it had blown the field apart.

Alemu now seemed to be struggling and Paula was beginning to close on her.

Radcliffe had to hope that Noguchi had gone too early - but the Japanese woman looked in control and showed no sign of tiring.

Mile 20
Paula was locked in a battle for the minor medals with Ndereba and Alemu as Noguchi extended her lead.

Radcliffe was working as hard as she could but Ndereba had taken over in silver medal position.

Mile 21
Had Noguchi gone too soon? Ndereba was now making her move and beginning to close in on her Japanese rival.

Radcliffe's gold medal chance seemed to be slipping away, and she was even in danger of missing out on a medal entirely.

Mile 22
Noguchi was hanging on. She looked tired and Ndereba was still closing - but only by a few seconds a mile.

Radcliffe was showing no sign of getting back to the front two and had Alemu pushing her hard for bronze.

She looked on the point of exhaustion.

Mile 23
Disaster for Paula.

She slowed and then stopped, unable to go any further. Having given everything in pursuit of that elusive Olympic gold, she was now in tears.

Mile 24
Ndereba was closing in on Noguchi.

The Kenyan looked fresh and was now just 14 seconds off. Can Noguchi hang on with just a few thousand metres to go?

Radcliffe was distraught. She was crouched on the side of the road, head in hands, crying bitter tears of frustration.

The intense heat and tough course simply proved too much for the world record holder.

Mile 25
Dramatic scenes as the race headed into the final mile.

Ndereba was closing and closing. Noguchi looked over her shoulder anxiously and was hanging on for dear life.

Didthe Japanese leader have sufficient strength left to hold off the fast-finishing Kenyan?

Finish line
Noguchi had done it.

She held off Ndereba with a supreme effort in the closing stages to take Japan's second consecutive marathon gold.

Ndereba took silver, with USA's Deena Kastor, who motored through the field in the closing stages, coming through for bronze.

Final postions:
Gold: Mizuki Noguchi (Japan)
Silver: Catherine Ndereba (Kenya)
Bronze: Deena Kastor (USA)




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