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Last Updated: Saturday, 28 August, 2004, 14:20 GMT 15:20 UK
Radcliffe eyes long break
Paula Radcliffe
Paula Radcliffe seems set for a long break from athletics after flying out of Athens following the 10,000m final.

Radcliffe pulled out of the race after also dropping out of the marathon and said: "I will be back but I must give my body time to get over that."

She is believed to have hinted she will not return for the world half marathon in New Delhi on October 3.

And she is also not expected to run in either the Chicago or New York marathons in November.

Radcliffe is believed to have returned to England rather than going back to her training base in Fort Romeau in the French Pyrenees.

She pulled out of Friday's final with eight laps to go and said: "I stopped because I didn't want to do myself permanent damage and I had promised that to the medical staff and the people around me."

Opinion has been divided on whether Radcliffe should have run again so soon after her tearful marathon exit.

She said: "It's never good to stop halfway through a race but for me it would have been quitting not to go out there and give myself half a chance.

"I wanted to run well for everyone.

"I felt completely empty after the marathon and then I started to pick up the pieces. I wanted to salvage something and I had to at least see if my body could do it again.

I've got to come back for myself and everyone who supported me
Paula Radcliffe

"I seemed to have recovered OK and it has been a gradual progression from being hardly able to walk up the stairs on Monday to being able to run at race pace on Wednesday night."

Team GB athletics chief Max Jones has defended Paula Radcliffe's decision to run in the Olympic 10,000m final.

"It was a run she had to do though the odds were stacked against her. I have massive respect for her - she'll come back a stronger athlete," he said.

"Paula had physiological tests from both the British Olympic Association and UK Athletics doctors before making her decision."

BBC pundit and former Olympic 10,000m bronze medallist Brendan Foster questioned Radcliffe's decision to compete again after the physical intensity of the marathon.

"The rules of distance running say if you shatter your body five days before a major event, the human body doesn't recover quickly enough," he said.

"It's a fact of distance running and fact of physiology.

"She ran a training session between the marathon and the 10,000m. To me that didn't make any sense.

Daily Mail: Shattered
Daily Telegraph: Radcliffe 'crushed' by second failure
The Sun: Paula: 'I had to do it'
The Times: Despondent Radcliffe running on empty

"She's a great athlete, but I just think her preparations training at altitude to run at sea level in the heat maybe wasn't the right decision."

Her decision to run and subsequent withdrawal met with a mixed reaction in the Saturday morning newspapers.

The Telegraph praised her for competing and the Mirror said: "She will still be our face of this Games."

However, the Express questioned if she would ever regain her best form.

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