After 2:20:57 hours Paula Radcliffe reached the finish line winning. Twelve years she dreamed to do so. For the first time in her career the 31 year-old English runner won a gold medal at major global championships. At World Cross Country Championships and World Half Marathon Championships she had already won several gold medals, but every time in summer, when it was getting important at the Olympics or World Championships, the winner was not Paula Radcliffe. Ten times she was in a final at Olympic Games or World Championships, beginning in Stuttgart 1993. Just once she had won a medal: At the World Championships in 1999 in the 10,000 m.
No more tears
Now in the Olympic Stadium of Helsinki her series of failures and tears ended in her eleventh attempt. Eight days ago, Paula Radcliffe was surprisingly running in the 10,000 m final. Once more she had to see that her speed on the track is not good enough to match Ethiopians and win a medal. Paula Radcliffe finished ninth, after she had led the race for a long time, as so often before. But in contrast to past years, this 10,000 m race was no real disappointment for Paula Radcliffe. “I have run this race just to get a chance for a last speed training for the marathon. I concentrate on the classic race“, said Paula Radcliffe.
Like Tour de France
Cheered on by a large British crowd along the course, the 10,000 m European record holder (30:01.09 minutes) set the pace in the marathon right from the beginning. “I am happy, that was an important victory for me. I knew I had good speed and that I just had to hold on until the finish,” said Radcliffe. Right from the start she set the pace and was running in front. In pleasant running temperatures, the split times were unusually fast for a championship’s race: After 33:32 minutes she passed the 10 k and after 1:09:49 Paula passed the half marathon. Between 25 and 30 k she finally got rid of her competitors and increased her lead continuously. At the end she won with a new championships’ record of 2:20:57 hours and had a lead of 64 seconds. Title holder Catherine Ndereba (Kenya) was second. Third place in a very fast race was taken by the Rumanian Constantina Tomescu in 2:23:19.
„It wasn’t easy, but I also enjoyed the race a bit – the support of the crowd was superb. Last year I had some problems before the Olympic Games. This time I took care that I was healthy and concentrated before Helsinki”, said Paula Radcliffe. One year ago her world had collapsed. At the Olympic Games in Athens the marathon world record holder (2:15:25 hours) was the big favourite. But in the boiling heat Paula Radcliffe missed her golden goal once more – instead she gave up. At 36 k Paula Radcliffe was sitting on the roadside crying, while the Japanese Mizuki Noguchi ran to her biggest triumph in her career. But with that her Olympic drama wasn’t over yet. Just six days later she competed again in the 10,000 m final. She gave up as well. But Paula Radcliffe fighted her way through this rough time. Only two months later she came back as the winner of the New York Marathon. And in April she won the London Marathon in 2:17:42 hours. She is the only one who has ever run faster.