A Guide to Paula Radcliffe

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What You Need to Know

  1. Paula Jane Radcliffe was born in Davenham, Cheshire on December 17th 1973 and was running competitively from an early age.
  2. Paula’s first major medal was the silver she won at the 1997 World Cross Country Championship.
  3. As of 2011, Paula holds the world record for the women’s marathon, with a time of 2:15:25 hours.
  4. She won her first London Marathon in 2002 and she has also won the Chicago and New York marathons, among numerous other top events.
  5. However, she failed in her mission to win gold at both the Athens and Beijing Olympic Games.
  6. he time she recorded in the Berlin Marathon in September 2011 was good enough for her to qualify for London 2012.
  7. However she performs, Paula has consistently said she plans to retire from running after the London Olympics.

Early Life and Career

Paula Jane Radcliffe was born to an athletics-loving family in Davenham, Cheshire on December 17th 1973.

From an early age her running talents were clear, with the young Paula making a name for herself first at the Frodsham Athletic Club and then, following a family move to Bedfordshire, with the Bedford County Athletic Club.

By the age of 13, Paula had notched up a fourth-placed finish in the English Schools Cross Country Championships in 1987.

However, it was only in the 1990s that she started hitting the big time, with fifth-placed finishes in the 5,000 metres in the 1995 World Championships and then the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

World Success

Radcliffe's wait for a major medal didn't last too long. A silver at the 1997 World Cross Country Championship was followed by another over 10,000 metres at the 1999 World Athletics Championships in Seville, though disappointment returned with a fourth-placed finish in the same event at the Sydney Olympics.

After another couple of World Cross Country Championship titles, Radcliffe finally made her long-awaited London Marathon debut in 2002, with her lengthy preparation paying off and helping her to hold on to an early lead and win the event in record-breaking time.

This was followed by a gold in the 5,000 metres at the Manchester Commonwealth Games and then another in the 10,000 metres in the European Championships a week later. She then won the Chicago Marathon, again in record-breaking time.

While disappointment came at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, where the adverse affects of anti-inflammatory drugs led to her dropping out of the marathon she was favourite to win, she successfully put this behind her with another first-place in the 2005 London Marathon, and then gold at the same year's World Championships in Helsinki.

The birth of her first child and a lengthy stint of rehabilitation saw Radcliffe sit out the 2006 season, as well as the majority of 2007, though she won the New York Marathon in November of that year.

Despite this rest and recuperation, she could only manage a 23rd-placed finish at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, while she also failed to win a third consecutive New York title in 2009.

In 2010, on the back of her numerous achievements, Paula was inducted into the England Athletics Hall of Fame.

London 2012 Olympics

Despite a spate of injury problems, Paula has expressed her desire to retire on a high by making the London 2012 marathon her final race. Notably, the time she recorded in the Berlin Marathon in September 2011 was good enough for her to qualify for London 2012, so barring any further injuries, she is on track to be given a final shot at Olympics glory.

Fascinating Facts

  • Paula's early running success came despite the fact that she suffered from asthma and anaemia as a child.
  • As well as her success on the track, the runner also achieved academic success, gaining a first-class honours degree in European Studies at Loughborough University.
  • The red ribbon that Radcliffe wears while competing is a sign of her strong support for blood testing in order to clamp down on doping in athletics.
  • As of 2011, Paula holds the world record for the women’s marathon, with a time of 2:15:25 hours.

Further Reading

 

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