Paula Radcliffe dropped out of the Olympic 10,000 with 8 laps to go. This looks bad for a couple of reasons. Apparently she had felt fine in training, and the doctors said there was nothing wrong with her. So being so far off the pace is very puzzling. And now she has lost any psychological advantage she may have had over her rivals. <br /><br />She also said she couldn’t watch and think “what if.” This is closer to the truth. She wanted to win, but clearly wasn’t recovered from the marathon.<br /><br />But the real problem is her naivete. She runs bad races because she seems unable to work out what her opponents are doing, as they consistently drop and raise the pace. Her training and preparation also look naive. The winner of the marathon had run the full course in the run up to Athens. Paula didn’t. Why not? <br /><br />Despite all this, pundits still plod on trying to persuade us and themselves that she is a winner and a champion. “She is still the best marathon runner in the world” blustered one on Radio5. At the risk of repeating myself, no she isn’t. Commentators are guilty of double standards. They all agree that El Guerrouj winning the 1500 was essential to confirm his status as the best middle distance runner of the last decade. It is the medal his career both deserved and required. But for Radcliffe, any failure is OK because by some criteria other than major titles she is deemed to be the best. Sorry, but it’s bullshit.<br /><br />I agree that Paula’s Olympics has been a disaster and it’s a shame. I don’t want to detract from the fact that she is a great runner, and has achieved lots in the sport. But don’t call her the best when on the day, in the big events, she has come up woefully short.<br /><br />Cheer on Kelly Holmes instead. She has a chance of winning the 800-1500 double tonight, and if she gets any medal to go with the 800 gold, she should (and I stress SHOULD) be a shoo-in for the spots personality of the year. But some football geezer will probably get it.
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