The Olympics: 2004: I WANT TO RUN IT; EXCLUSIVE BRAVE PAULA PINS HOPES ON 10,000M Marathon Star Targets 'Greatest Comeback in History'

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Byline: JOHN CROSS and JANE RIDLEY

PAULA Radcliffe says she wants to go for gold in the Olympic 10,000 metres final on Friday.

She is desperate to make up for her failure to finish the marathon in which she was expected to triumph.

After a tearful and traumatic three days, she has told friends: "I'll run."

But the final decision could now depend on medical opinion.

The 30-year-old British star saw a doctor yesterday and was "sleeping on his advice" before making a decision today on whether or not to run.

But as she prepared for what could be the biggest sporting comeback in history, her parents delivered their support.

Her father Peter told the Daily Mirror: "Paula will bounce back. She is a very determined character and whatever she decides, we'll back her."

Paula is already feeling fitter and stronger following her gruelling marathon ordeal in the searing heat of Athens.

UK Athletics coaching supremo Max Jones revealed: "She is being monitored daily, she is getting better daily."

And privately she has resolved to run the race of her life in pursuit of the medal she craves - both for herself and Team GB.

Even if she misses out on glory, the girl from Bedford wants to prove that she has the grit to cross the finishing line.

Last night British athletes backed Paula to bounce back in the 10,000 metres.

Olympic gold medallist Kelly Holmes said: "I'm sure if she is fit enough, she will go for the 10,000 and I'm sure everybody in Britain would like to see her do it."

And former Commonwealth Games high jump champion Dalton Grant added: "It is normal for an athlete to have a hiccup. If she is prepared to go out and put her neck on the line she should go for it."

Yesterday her mother Pat, 56, described the anguish of watching her daughter break down and collapse on Sunday in what should have been the crowning event of her brilliant career.

"We are desperately proud of Paula but devastated things didn't turn out how she'd hoped," said Pat, speaking at her hotel near the Marathon start line, 26 miles east of Athens.

"My first instinct was to dash out and wrap my arms around my little girl.

"It was an awful thing for a mother to see her daughter suffering like that. We were extremely upset and worried.

"The feeling of helplessness was horrendous. We didn't know where she was for what seemed like ages."

Paula's family had gathered at the finish line at the Panathinaiko Stadium and watched the giant screen.

As they saw her faltering, they rushed to leave but officials wouldn't let them out. "It was terrible.

"We felt so powerless," said Pat. Peter and his son-in-law Gary Lough, who also coaches Paula, frantically tried to find out what was happening. The screen wasn't telling us anything," said the businessman. …