- World Cross Country Championship long-course run
Paula Radcliffe as the world’s fastest female marathoner, is also one of Britain’s most popular athletes, beloved as much for her losses as for her wins. A middle- and long-distance runner since her teens, Radcliffe’s positive attitude and disciplined perseverance endeared her to sports enthusiasts. After a heartbreaking fourth-place finish in the 10,000-meter race at the Summer Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, one woman wrote in a fan letter to Radcliffe, “Your guts and determination embodied everything I want my daughter to learn about giving her all–in running but also in life.”
Winning the World Half-Marathon Championships, World Cross Country Championship long-course run, she began shifting her focus to longer runs. She placed first in eight out of nine competitions, including the Flora London Marathon and the Chicago Marathon, at which she broke the women’s world record.
Radcliffe continued to defy expectations, when she defended her title at the London Marathon, shaving nearly two minutes off her previous world-record score.
Paula Jane Radcliffe has become one of the country’s best known and most celebrated long distance runners. Paula defeated Wang Junxia to win the World Junior Cross-Country title in Boston, despite suffering for much of that season with anaemia.
Due to a leg injury, she was forced to watch the events in Budapest from the sidelines on crutches, but she was back on form and finished fifth in the Gothenburg World Championships over 5000 meters.
She came fifth again Olympic Games in Atlanta and improved to fourth position World Championships. She moved up to the 10,000 meters event.
Her first major medal win was a silver medal at World Championships.
A variable performance meant that Olympics, though setting a new UK record she failed to finish among the medalists.
Paula has now set five UK records at 5000 and 10,000 meters, and three at 3000 meters.
She won the world half-marathon gold medal at Veracruz in Mexico and successfully defended her crown in Bristol. Wins at the European and the Commonwealth Games as well as the Chicago Marathon, resulted in her being voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
There followed mixed fortunes, with her missing the World Championships in Paris due to injuries, a world best time in the 10 kilometer race in Puerto Rico, and a win at the Flora London Marathon later in which she beat her previous time by a full two minutes.
In the BUPA Great North Run her time was the fastest half-marathon ever run by a woman although the nature of the Tyneside course ruled it out for record purposes.
Her defeat in Japan followed but she bounced back by winning the European cross-country title in front of an appreciative home crowd at Edinburgh, leading Britain to team gold.