Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Paula and Kelly Double Act Puts Women Ahead in Equality Race

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Paula and Kelly Double Act Puts Women Ahead in Equality Race

Article excerpt

Byline: IAN CHADBAND

AS Paula Radcliffe enthused about her breakfast with CNN and late night chat with David Letterman while the headlines here all trumpeted her "true Brit grit", the warming thought dawned that British athletics is in a unique position of boasting perhaps the two most celebrated women performers in the athletics world.

What's more, with Radcliffe reasserting herself as distance running's queen with her New York marathon triumph and Kelly Holmes taking a sabbatical from the celebrity beat to help mould some young British middle-distance prospects at a camp she's running in South Africa, the pair's star power has utterly eclipsed that of their domestic male counterparts.

This is unprecedented. We have had world-beating women duos before but their role was largely a supporting one. Ann Packer and Mary Rand knew their place alongside Lynn Davies in the mid-Sixties while Tessa Sanderson and Fatima Whitbread were always dwarfed by Coe, Ovett, Cram et al.

Yet Radcliffe, rivalling Ingrid Kristiansen as the greatest women's distance runner of all time, and Holmes, suddenly elevated among that rarest of breed who've won double Olympic gold, now have the field to themselves.

They are instantly recognisable figures in an era when many would find it difficult to put a name to the faces even of our four men's Olympic sprint relay champs.

"I think it's good for the sport to have high profile figures in the sport, whether it's a man or woman, but I think it's particularly good for women's sport in Britain," pondered Radcliffe here yesterday, as she reflected on this new spectacular double act.

"It can only help when, in the past, women might have wanted to run but were a little too self-conscious to get involved in the sport."

The pair have done their own thing down the years but thinking about how far they went back together in a British vest, Radcliffe recalled tougher times four years ago when she was struggling with a knee injury and Holmes's body appeared to be breaking up.

"A lot of times, we were both going over to see the same physio Ger Hartmann when Kelly was going through hell so it's really good that we're both on a high now," she said. …

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