- Full name Paula Jane Radcliffe
- Birth date December 17, 1973
- Birth place Northwich
- Current age 42 years 253 days
- Height 5 ft 8 in
Arguably Britain's greatest long-distance runner, Paula Radcliffe burst onto the scene in 1992, becoming Junior World Cross Country Champion. After an impressive debut season in the senior competition the following year she began to look to the 1994 Commonwealth Games, but was forced to miss the whole season with a foot injury. However, on her return to the track in 1995, she finished fifth in the 5000m at the World Championships in Gothenburg.
After graduating from Loughborough University with first class honours, she went to Atlanta where she finished fifth in the 1996 Olympic final. In 1998 she stepped up to the longer distance In the 10,000m at the 1999 World Championships in Seville, Radcliffe set a personal best to take silver behind rival Gete Wami. Olympic heartbreak followed in the Sydney games, where she was outsprinted to finish out of the medals in fourth.
After success at the half marathon distance, Radcliffe made her full marathon debut in London in 2002, after shrugging off an injury. In an astonishing debut performance, she cruised away from her rivals and won in 2:18.56, a new European record and the fastest ever time for a debutant. With the clock on the lead car not working, Radcliffe was unaware until the end of the race that she had come within nine seconds of Catherine Ndereba's world record.
In front of a home crowd in Manchester, she won the 5000m Commonwealth title with a new British record, and just a week later stepped up to the 10,000m event to win the European Championships. In her final race of the year she cruised to another victory at the Chicago Marathon, breaking the world record in the process, topping off a stunning year in which she was awarded an MBE and voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year. Returning to London in 2003 to defend her marathon title for the first time, Radcliffe retained her crown in emphatic fashion; storming to a new world record 2:15.25, a record that no-one has come close to breaking.
Ahead of the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Radcliffe was the favourite to win the marathon event, but after taking anti-inflammatory medication to ease a minor leg pain, she suffered severe stomach ache and despite her discomfort decided to start the race, but was agonisingly forced to retire with just 6km remaining. Determined to break her Olympic duck, knowing that her next opportunity would not be for another four years, Radcliffe entered the 10,000m final just five days later, but clearly still suffering she dropped out with eight laps remaining.
She made her comeback three months later at the New York Marathon, triumphing in a nail-biting finish to win by four seconds over Susan Chepkemei.
In 2005 she won the won the London Marathon for the third year running, but the race will be remembered for her stopping for a toilet break by the side of the road. She then went on to win gold at the World Championships. The following year she took a break from the sport, taking time to recover from injuries and in January 2007 she gave birth to her first child, daughter Isla with husband and manager Gary Lough.
After an injury-plagued beginning to 2008, Radcliffe was a doubt going into the Beijing games, and although she made it to the start line, she managed 23rd place after suffering with cramp during the race.
2009 was further plagued with injury, missing the World Championships after failing to return to full fitness, and then the World Half Marathon Championships with tonsillitis. After returning from the birth of her second child in May 2011, Radcliffe's dreams of competing in a fifth Olympic Games were shattered when she was forced to withdraw from her home Olympics with a foot injury just a week before the race.
Setting a world record in front of a home crowd at the 2003 London Marathon with a time of 2:15.25.
Favourite to win Olympic gold in Athens, she was forced to retire with just six kilometres remaining with exhaustion after medication caused her stomach pains.
"I can't imagine life without running - I hope I never have to. The birth of my daughter, Isla, hasn't lessened my enjoyment of running, or my desire to win. I'm just as committed, if not more so, because there's someone else to run for."
"I believe she could be Britain's best hope for a (athletics) gold medal in 2012. Remember Constantina Tomescu the winner in Beijing was 38, and that's exactly how old Paula will be in London." Brendan Foster
Radcliffe is not the first Olympian in her family - her great-aunt Charlotte Radcliffe won an Olympic silver swimming medal at the 1920 Antwerp Games after swimming the third leg of the 4x100m freestyle relay.
- Radcliffe won't retire despite losing funding (Oct 15, 2012)
- Radcliffe downbeat on marathon chances (Jul 29, 2012)
- Radcliffe suffers Olympic heartbreak (Jul 29, 2012)
- Fitness concerns for Radcliffe and Sayers (Jul 25, 2012)
Radcliffe admits London 2012 injury concern (Jul 4, 2012)