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Last Updated: Friday, 27 August, 2004, 22:13 GMT 23:13 UK
Paula is human after all

By Steve Cram
BBC Sport in Athens

Right decision, impossible task.

That's the best way to describe Paula Radcliffe's run in the Olympic 10,000m final.

And when she dropped out? It was not what was wanted, but it was probably what was expected.

Paula Radcliffe breaks down after the marathon

In the end, the fact that she ran has helped her a lot.

It's also helped her realise that she's human.

She's done some great things in the past and she'll do some great things in the future, but there was no way she could come back from what happened on Sunday and win a world-class race like this.

But she wanted to go out there and find out - and she found out.

It was easy for us beforehand to stand around and say, 'Don't do it, don't do it,' but as an athlete I can absolutely understand why she wanted to run.

She would have watched it at home and say there wondering what if, and that this was the sort of race she would have enjoyed.

Mentally I think she was fully recovered from the trauma of the marathon.

But physically? No way.

I know she dropped out again, and she wouldn't have wanted to do that.

Now she should go away, take some time off and have a rest
But it can be a pointless exercise to carry on when you're feeling like that.

It's a personal thing - some people are happy to jog round and say, hey - I finished the Olympic Games.

But others aren't. I remember Steve Ovett stepping off the track in Los Angeles in 1984, and Denise Lewis doing the same here.

It happens particularly to medal hopes - it's a way of thinking, and it's something that's very hard for those who haven't been there to understand.

The reason Paula ran was to try to get a medal.

Once that hope had gone, she worked hard for a while and then realised she was running herself into the ground - and for what?

The future

Now she should go away, take some time off and have a rest.

She should look back on some of the things she's done in the last four months and ask herself if there is anything she can learn from.

She's at a stage in her career when, as a distance runner, she's got plenty left in her.

She's got another Olympic Games in her, and she's got at least two world championships.

She has a big future ahead of her.

I still believe she is the best marathon runner in the world, and she's not far of being the best 10,000m runner, as her record-breaking run in Gateshead just six weeks ago demonstrated.

You don't suddenly lose all of that.

She has to have a think, ask herself which things went right, which things she can control and which she can't.

And then? Then she must start again.

Links to more Athletics stories


BBC pundits on Radcliffe
22 Aug 04  |  Athletics


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