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Paula Radcliffe ponders retirement after further injury woes

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Paula Radcliffe is contemplating hanging up her running spikes and retiring at 39. After the disappointment of missing the London 2012 Olympics, she was determined to get back to racing, but her injury problems seem likely to defeat that ambition.

Radcliffe’s stellar career has been punctuated by regular Olympic disappointment. On the track, she lacked the finishing kick required to claim gold. Even while dominating the marathon, Olympic Games always seemed to find her in the middle of an injury crisis. Lack of fitness told against her in Beijing and her hopes of glory at London were dashed weeks before the Games.

She was planning her recuperation and training with the aim of being fit and competitive in time for the 2014 London Marathon. Further injury seems to have put paid to that idea.

"Targets have gone out of the window," Radcliffe told the BBC. "I’m in a limbo where I know and accept that realistically it may not be possible. But at the same time I have a little window of hope and I would rather be able to finish my career in a race, rather than a race I can't actually get to the start line of."

Her priority is getting back to a normal level of health, where she is able to jog without wincing. "I've not even been able to run after the kids in the last few months," she said. "The first goal is to be able to have a normal active life and then worry about if I can get back to competing."

Her competitive instincts remain intact, and although she accepts that her body might be telling her to give it up, as the world record holder, she thinks she could still perform respectably. "I would love to be able to run a couple more marathons before I finish, even if it's just another half marathon. At the same time I would still like to have a healthy foot in 20 years' time."

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