Marathon queen Radcliffe "may not go to London 2012 start line", reveals team-mate
Thursday, 19 April 2012
April 19 - Paula Radcliffe may not take up her place in the London 2012 marathon unless she is in top condition, her childhood friend and potential team-mate, Liz Yelling, revealed today.
Speaking less than a week after the British star – who has never won an Olympic medal – had finished in tears in Vienna having run the slowest half-marathon of her elite career, Yelling hinted that the marathon world record holder had suffered enough trauma in past Olympics not to risk another unhappy experience.
"If Paula doesn't think she can achieve, or at least run to, her potential then I don't think she'll be ready to go through it all again," Yelling (pictured top, in centre alongside Claire Hallissey and Louise Damen) told a press conference ahead of this Sunday's (April 22) Virgin London Marathon.
"I don't think she will put herself in that position again if she thinks it could turn out like it did at the last two Games.
"I think it would be just too much for a third time."
She added: "If she can get there in good shape she will be okay – but not being injured is going to be the key for her this year.
"She will know with a month left if everything is right."
Yelling will seek on Sunday to secure the third available place in the British team behind the two pre-selected runners, Radcliffe and Mara Yamauchi.
Speaking further about her 38-year-old close friend, Yelling, 37, said: "I've trained with Paula since I was 10, and I know her very well.
"I've seen her calamities at the last two Olympics.
"I also saw what she produced in Vienna and the time showed she wasn't in very good shape.
"But she has had pleurisy recently and had been on antibiotics, so it wasn't a good day for her – I don't think it was a reflection on what she is capable of."
Yelling (pictured above, with a tearful Radcliffe following the Beijing 2008 marathon) added: "I still think Paula has a chance in the Games.
"She ran 2 hours 23min in Berlin, don't forget.
"Maybe what happened in Vienna has taken a bit of pressure off her; maybe it will give her a chance to breathe a little and do her thing again."
Yelling was sitting alongside domestic rivals Claire Hallissey and Louise Damen as she spoke.
All three will be seeking to finish as the top Briton on Sunday while bearing in mind that they will probably need to beat the time of 2 hours 28min 24sec set by Jo Pavey at last year's London Marathon.
While Pavey sits out the race, hoping that her 2011 performance and subsequent promising showing in the New York Marathon will be enough to get her the nod, Yelling, Hallissey and Damen know what they have to do.
Asked if they would rather be in Pavey's position, all three responded that they preferred to be playing the more active role.
"I have been in Jo's position before and I know how nerve-wracking it can be," Yelling said.
"She is taking a calculated risk –hopefully we can make her very nervous!"
Hallisey, who is based in the United States and ranked fourth in the UK after her first sub 2:30 marathon in Chicago last October, added: "I've heard that Jo has half an eye on the 10,000 metres as a back-up.
"For me it's the marathon or nothing."
For Yelling, who has a personal best of 2:28:33, there are strong emotional reasons to desire qualification at what would be her third Olympics.
"In terms of preparation, 2008 was probably my best year," she said.
"I went to the Beijing Olympics feeling confident and I led the race for the first nine miles before I was tripped by Gete Wami; it wasn't her fault – one of the barriers had been pushed across the blue running line and there was a pack of us together.
"I went down quite hard – I didn't realise at the time, but I had cracked a rib on my right side."
She continued: "I felt I was running within myself but when I stepped up the pace I couldn't breathe – and it is quite important to be able to breathe during a marathon!
"After the race I was so frustrated – okay, I had finished the race but I hadn't been able to show what I was capable of.
"Four years earlier I had completed the race at the Athens Olympics, but that was only my second marathon and it was a big learning curve.
"So I don't feel like I've done myself justice at the Olympic Games."
Yelling concluded with a determined look: "There's something about it that just drives me on."
April 2012: Radcliffe's Olympic warm-up in Vienna ends in tears – and it doesn't mean nothing to her
December 2011: Radcliffe's fifth Olympics confirmed as Yamauchi and Overall also get London 2012 nod
September 2011: Kenyan sets world record in Berlin Marathon as Gebrselassie drops out
September 2011: With Radcliffe and Bekele returning to action how will the rest of the field rise to the challenge presented by their comeback?
June 2011: Radcliffe names Berlin for marathon return