/ Athletics

Radcliffe relies on experience

Updated: Tuesday, 04 Mar 2008 14:54

Paula Radcliffe cut a forlorn figure at the last Olympics
Paula Radcliffe cut a forlorn figure at the last Olympics

Paula Radcliffe believes her previous traumatic Olympic experiences will stand her in good stead in Beijing this summer.

The 34-year-old is one of the favourites for the marathon at the Games in China in what will be her fourth Olympics after making her debut in 1996.

Radcliffe finished fifth in the 5,000metres in Atlanta, fourth four years later in Sydney, although it was Athens where she experienced her most traumatic Games.

The athlete was one of the favourites for the marathon but she was hindered by a reaction to anti-inflammatories prescribed for a leg injury and pulled out with six kilometres to go.

She then entered the 10,000m a few days later but had to withdraw.

‘Winning a gold at the Olympics is that much better than winning a gold at the World Championships, which I have,’ she said.

‘I think for me also, having been to three Olympics, where I feel I've never been able to achieve my maximum potential, there is an added fire and momentum and, yes, added pressure to perform in Beijing.

‘I also feel that having been through what I have been through in previous Olympics, I've already experienced the worst that can happen and I've come through and survived, so for me the pressure is less.

‘I actually feel that that experience will make me stronger in Beijing. I think you can go into it with a little bit too much pressure on your shoulders.

‘I think my previous experiences will help me treat it like another marathon. What I need to do is go there 100% healthy, 100% fit and then just give it the best shot on the day.’

The world marathon record holder is not daunted by the humid conditions and knows she must be prepared for all eventualities.

‘Obviously, times will be slower but it will be tougher for everybody, but in some ways that will be better for me because a tougher race means the tougher racers will come to the top,’ she added.

‘You can't go in looking at one single person, but at a group of people from where the danger might come, but also be prepared for someone who comes in really good shape who you might not be expecting and be ready to handle that too.’

Radcliffe was speaking after receiving the Laureus Comeback of the Year award which she had been unable to collect at last month's ceremony in St Petersburg leading to allegations of a snub.

She said: ‘I'm sorry I wasn't able to make the ceremony in St Petersburg, and this has been the earliest opportunity I have had to receive the award.

‘I know there has been some comment on that, but my training schedule here in New Mexico has made things difficult, and this has been the first opportunity.’