Radcliffe targets course record in New York City Marathon
PAULA Radcliffe insists she is in perfect shape to break the course record as she vies for her fourth New York City Marathon win on Sunday.
HIGH HOPES: Paula Radcliffe targets course record in New York Marathon
The 35-year old goes into the event as overwhelming favourite following the withdrawal of 2009 LA Marathon winner Tatyana Petrova of Russia and last year's Boston Marathon champion Dire Tune.
Radcliffe, whose 2003 London Marathon time of 2:15:25 hours remains a world record, has fond memories of competing in the Big Apple, having won the event the past two years as well as in 2004, and came within two seconds of breaking the New York City Half Marathon course record in August.
And despite an injury-plagued year which has seen the Brit withdraw from the World Athletics Championships and World Half Marathon Championships, Radcliffe is adamant she can end 2009 on a high by dipping under Kenyan Margaret Okayo's 2003 course record of 2:22:31 hrs in New York.
"I'm positive Okayo's time can be beaten and I know I have it in me to do it," said Radcliffe, who will be running her first marathon since surgery to remove a bunion in March.
"It often depends on how you feel on the day and the main objective is to win the race but in my mind, the record is there to be broken.
"I may not have run one in a while but I'm confident I've got the runs behind me to complete a marathon.
"There may have been a few withdrawals but I still feel like it could be a really competitive race - in running you always have to be ready for someone new to come and challenge but I'm going to stick to my race plan and see how it pans out."
With the countdown to the London Olympics hitting the 1000 day mark on Saturday, the spotlight is beginning to grow on Radcliffe as she prepares to break her Olympic duck in what may well be her last marathon in three years' time.
And while the stress of picking up the only major medal to elude her so far has affected the Brit in the past, Radcliffe she will be approaching 2012 with a much more relaxed attitude.
Such is Radcliffe's change in approach, the Brit admitted she is likely to try for another child next year rather than competing in the European Athletics Championships or Commonwealth Games.
"I've learnt to be a lot more relaxed looking forward to the Olympics," said Radcliffe. "It may sound crazy because it will probably be my last shot at Olympic gold but after the disappointment in Athens and Beijing, I've changed my approach.
"It often works against you to get yourself worked up and worried - I know I can only give my best in every race so I'll just concentrate on that.
"I don't want to be obsessed with 2012 because the stress would be too much. I could put off having another child until after the Olympics because I don't want to hamper my preparation but it would just put so much pressure on me."
While Radcliffe is expected to take the honours in the women's race, the men's event looks set to be a more open race with Morocco's two-time world champion Jaouad Gharib favourite but Kenyan's Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot, James Kwambai and Patrick Makau Musyoki all likely to challenge.