• London 2012 - Athletics

Radcliffe suffers Olympic heartbreak

ESPN staff
July 29, 2012
Paula Radcliffe has never won an Olympic medal © Getty Images

World marathon record holder Paula Radcliffe has been forced to pull out of London 2012 with a foot injury.

Radcliffe was reported to be "50-50" earlier this week, but after a late fitness test on Sunday she has lost her battle to be ready for the marathon race on August 5.

"As desperate as I was to be part of the amazing experience of the London Olympics, I don't want to be there below my best," Radcliffe said. "If I can't be there and give it my best, then I would rather someone else who can do that is able to be there.

"I have been through the mill emotionally and physically the past three weeks, cried more tears than ever, vented more frustration and at the same time calmly tried every direction and avenue available to heal myself."

UK Athletics and the British Olympic Association intend to nominate Freya Murray to replace Radcliffe on the start line.

UK Athletics head coach Charles van Commenee said: "This is obviously a disappointing day for Paula and our sport, but it was important to her that if she made the start line it would be in the best possible shape. It wasn't meant to be and she has taken the right decision to withdraw at this stage.

"I think it is important that we don't look at Paula's career in Olympic cycles. She is undoubtedly one of the greatest female distance runners of all times and still holds the marathon world record. When we look back at her career it should be in the context of what she has achieved and not what she hasn't. I wish her all the very best for her recovery."

Team GB Chef de Mission Andy Hunt added: "Throughout her career, Paula has epitomised the talent, courage and determination that it takes to become a world-class performer in any sport. We know how determined Paula was to compete here, but it wasn't meant to be and we are disappointed for her."

Radcliffe, 38, admitted she was devastated to miss out on her fifth Olympics but is not entertaining thoughts of retirement.

"From the day when it was announced that London had won the bid, taking part and performing well in the London Olympic Games has been a major goal in my life," she said. "The goal of a fifth Olympics in my home country, what better? The chance to make amends to myself for bitter disappointments at the previous two Olympics.

"Through a lot of tough times it has kept me fighting, motivated and focused. That is why it hurts so much to finally admit to myself that it isn't going to happen.

"For details on my foot...yes that joint is degenerative and badly damaged. The same foot that I was told in 1994 I would never run on again! I refused to believe it then and I don't believe now that it can't recover and be carefully managed to allow me to still do what I love to do. Unfortunately though, that isn't going to happen in one week."

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