On this day in 2004: Paula Radcliffe suffers more Olympic heartbreak in Athens

The British athlete had broken down in tears after failing to finish the Olympic marathon five days earlier.

By Press Association Published: 27 August 2022 - 5.00am

Paula Radcliffe suffered more Olympic agony on this day in 2004 as she dropped out of the 10,000 metres final with eight-and-a-half laps remaining.

Five days earlier, Radcliffe had broken down in tears after failing to finish the Olympic marathon in Athens.

Radcliffe managed to stay with the leaders in the early stages of the 10,000m race before starting to slip back with 12 of the 25 laps left.

OLYMPICS Radcliffe_vg 2
Paula Radcliffe had broken down after failing to finish the 2004 Olympic marathon in Athens (PA Media)

After dropping 50m behind, she stepped into the infield.

“I actually felt better within myself but my legs just hadn’t recovered from the marathon,” Radcliffe said after her Olympic dream was over.

“There was just nothing in there. I thought I could keep running even pace but my quads just tightened.

“They just kept coming on and on. I felt I was moving back up to the leaders but they just tightened again.

“There was just nothing in there. I thought I could keep running even pace but my quads just tightened”
- Paula Radcliffe

“I don’t have regrets. I would rather have been in there and known the answer rather than watching it on TV and wondering ‘what if?’

“I need time to get over the devastation here but I’ll be back.”

China’s Xing Huina ran a brilliant race to beat Ethiopian pair Derartu Tulu and Ejegayehu Dibaba in a time of 30mins 24.36secs.

Defending champion Tulu was well placed with 400m to go and repeat her Sydney triumph.

Athletics – IAAF World Athletics Championships – Helsinki 2005 – Olympic Stadium
Paula Radcliffe shows off the marathon gold medal she won at the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki (John Giles/PA)

But Xing accelerated clear of her and Diaby, who later claimed she thought her Chinese rival was a lapped runner, to take gold.

Radcliffe reached the pinnacle of her career the following summer when she won Great Britain’s only gold at the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki.

She took the marathon title in a championship record time of 2:20:57.

Radcliffe, 48, ended her competitive running career in 2015 and is now an athletics commentator.

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