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Last Updated: Sunday, 22 August, 2004, 17:39 GMT 18:39 UK
BBC pundits on Radcliffe
Steve Cram
So painful for us to watch
Steve Cram
BBC Sport commentator and former British runner

Paula Radcliffe
I feel so sorry for Paula Radcliffe but she must have been in absolute turmoil when she made the difficult decision to pull out of the marathon.

Coming into the race, she had a few niggly problems and perhaps she wasn't in the shape she wanted to be on the day but she was still confident she would have enough to perform well.

However, this is not the way she would have wanted her Olympic challenge to end.

She had worked so hard to try to win a medal but once Alemu went past her, that was that.

Paula had already seen her chances of a gold or silver medal pass her by and with Alemu overtaking her, that was the chance of a bronze medal gone as well.

She isn't a quitter but she was visibly struggling and it was a heartbreaking sight.

This was a beast of a course, even on a good day, but these women were given the most testing of conditions to perform in.

It was much hotter and drier than it had been which made things very difficult.

However, Paula looked good early on when she was making sure the pace didn't drop but it is always difficult to look on and make assumptions on how someone is running.

When Noguchi broke away at the 25km stage and started to build up a big lead, things started to look bleak for Paula.

But it was so painful for us watching to see her pull out in such a distressed state.

Heat hurt Paula
Colin Jackson
BBC Sport summariser and former British hurdler

It is really, really difficult when you live in our British climate to really get something similar to what Paula Radcliffe had to face in Athens.

I am not so sure you can train for it either.

The winner was Japanese - their climate is similar, it is very humid and they are used to that. That is one of the key things.

And it is so difficult to control your body when it overheats.

But it is very disappointing for the whole British team because she was one of the people we had backed to win a medal.

Steve Cram and Colin Jackson were talking on BBC Sport's Olympic Grandstand after the race.



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