Paula Radcliffe’s chances of competing in the Olympic marathon are hanging on a knife edge. That’s according to the Team GB athletics head coach Charles Van Commenee who cannot predict whether the veteran long-distance runner will make it to the start.
"Shall we flip a coin?" he said. "Paula is Paula. Paula is always a concern. She is on a thin line every day for the last decade. Nothing has changed." Van Commenee is notoriously blunt in his comments, but his demeanour suggested he wasn’t pinning too many hopes on Radcliffe competing.
Radcliffe, the world record-holder, has won world, European and Commonwealth titles, but has never been able to find form and fitness in an Olympic year. London is her last chance, and she has already said she is in "a bit of a panic" about an old problem with osteoarthritis in her foot that hadn’t responded to painkilling injections.
She has estimated that a time of 2:20 would be required to be among the medals at the Olympics, and she has not run that fast for seven years. Her last race was in Vienna in a half-marathon, where she finished in her slowest time ever over the distance.
She was reported to have enjoyed some encouraging training sessions in May and June, but the injury news is not promising. Success in London would have been the perfect culmination of one of British athletics’ most illustrious careers, but it seems it might be a dream too far for Radcliffe.