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Sunday, 14 April, 2002, 12:27 GMT 13:27 UK
Radcliffe's dazzling debut
Paula Radcliffe (789) won the World Cross Country Championship in Dublin last month
Radcliffe retained her cross country title last month
Paula Radcliffe's magnificent London Marathon debut should not come as a surprise.

The Briton displayed characteristic grit en route to her victory in a course-record time and fought off a world-class field that included defending champion Deratu Tulu.

Experts have long predicted a bright future for the 28-year-old at the distance, believing that her dogged and determined style can work to her advantage.

And it does not hurt that Radcliffe is in confident mood this year, having successfully defended her World Cross Country title in March.

  Radcliffe factfile
Born: 17/12/1973
Birthplace: Northwich, Cheshire
Height: 1.73m
Weight: 54kg

Although she has established herself as Britain's top distance runner over the last few years, it is her disappointments that are remembered as much as her successes.

Ranked among the elite on the track at 3,000m, 5,000m and 10,000m, two of her most dramatic displays came in 1999 and 2000.

It was at the World Championships in Seville three years ago that Radcliffe won herself plenty of admirers by finishing second in the 10,000m.

Despite the searing heat, she pushed herself to the limit, forcing the pace before being passed on the last lap by Ethiopian Gete Wami.

A year later, she drove fans wild by using the same front-running tactic at the Sydney Olympics only to be pushed down to fourth in the final stages of the race.

Wami was again one of the athletes to deny Radcliffe, along with gold medallist Tulu, who has also stepped up to marathon distance.

Paula Radcliffe in action in the 10,000m in Sydney 2000
Radcliffe set a blistering pace at Sydney 2000

Radcliffe could take some consolation from her time, 30 minutes 26.97 seconds, which set another British and Commonwealth record to add to the many she owns over various distances.

Since then, the Cheshire-born athlete has continued to show the passion and resilience that has made her so popular.

She returned to winning ways with victory in the Great North Run and the World Half Marathon Championships in Mexico.

In 2001, she continued her rich vein of form, beating old rival Wami to take the World Cross Country title at Ostend and winning races in New York and Europe.

At the World Championships in Edmonton, she was again squeezed out of the medals by the Ethiopians in the 5,000m.

But in Bristol she retained her World Half Marathon title, improving her European record to 66:47.

In March this year, Radcliffe - who was voted Female Athlete of the Year in 1999 and 2001 - became the first woman in a decade to retain her World Cross Country title in Dublin.

And now, at her first attempt, she has taken the London Marathon by storm, taking advantage of favourable conditions to run the second-fastest time in history.

It is another great achievement for this distinguished athlete.

Perhaps her days of valiant defeat are behind her. Radcliffe may have found her ideal running distance.

See also:

14 Apr 02 |  London Marathon 2002
Debut win for Radcliffe
Links to more London Marathon 2002 stories are at the foot of the page.

 

Links to more London Marathon 2002 stories

 
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