OLYMPICS LONDON 2012: Injury ends Radcliffe's marathon dreams
MARATHON world record holder Paula Radcliffe has refused suggestions retirement is on the cards after she pulled out of the London 2012 Olympics.
DREAM OVER: Paula Radcliffe hoped to bounce back from Beijing and Athens disappointment but struggled to pass fitness test with chronic foot injury
The British Olympic Association confirmed the 38-year-old’s decision not to participate after she failed a fitness test to see if her chronic foot problem would be up to the rigours of an Olympic marathon.
Radcliffe, who had earlier taken to Twitter to criticise newspaper coverage of her impending withdrawal, believes it was the best decision not to run as she would not hit her own standards.
“Now is the time to rest totally, give my body chance to recover and assess calmly what can be done and where I go from here,” said Radcliffe, who failed to finish the marathon in Beijing in four years ago.
“For details on my foot – yes that joint is degenerative and badly damaged. The same foot that I was told in 1994 I would never run on again.
“I refused to believe it then and I don't believe now that it can't recover and be carefully managed to allow me to still do what I love to do. Unfortunately though that isn’t going to happen in one week.
“As desperate as I was to be part of the amazing experience of the London Olympics, I don't want to be there below my best.
“If I can't be there and give it my best, then I would rather someone else who can do that is able to be there.
“It is hard to know that had that had the Olympics been six weeks earlier I could have gone out there and run confidently knowing that I was in the best shape I had been in for a while, but I am by no means the first to experience something like this.
"However hard it is, finally closing the door on that dream, at least I can know that I truly have tried absolutely everything.
“Not one day was wasted in getting treatment, scans or interventions that might help. Now, however, is the time to accept that it is just not going to settle in time.”
Radcliffe admitted that she was determined to make London her fifth Olympics and was motivated to perform after failing to hit her own standards in Athens and Beijing.
But she was calm about the ups-and-downs of sport and believes that she has been lucky to have a long career.
She said: “The goal of a fifth Olympics in my home country, what better?
“(It was) the chance to make amends to myself for bitter disappointments at the previous two Olympics.
“My sport is a beautiful sport, it gives so much fun and enjoyment, and helps me to be a better person and I have been very fortunate to experience some great success and have so many beautiful and happy memories.
"However, the downside is that it can break your heart and spirit many times over when your body is simply unable to match what your heart and brain want it to do.”
Freya Murray, who just missed out on automatic qualification, will be nominated as Radcliffe’s replacement for the marathon, subject to approval.
Charles van Commenee, head coach of UK Athletics, believes Radcliffe should be remembered for her success as a distance runner throughout her career, and not for failing to set the Olympics alight.
He said: "This is obviously a disappointing day for Paula and our sport but it was important to her that if she made the start line it would be in the best possible shape.
“I think it is important that we don't look at Paula's career in Olympic cycles. She is undoubtedly one of the greatest female distance runners of all time and still holds the marathon world record.”
© Sportsbeat 2012