After Two Years Away, Paula Can Forget about Olympic Gold; LONG ROAD BACK: Paula Took Time out for Daughter Isla but Regaining Olympic Form Could Be beyond Her
Byline: Rob Draper
PAULA RADCLIFFE may be fit enough to win next weekend's BUPA Great NorthRun but she will never return to her world-record breaking form and is unlikelyto win the Olympic gold she craves in Beijing next year. That is the fear ofDave Bedford and Brendan Foster, Britain's leading race directors who are bothdistinguished former distance runners.
Radcliffe, the marathon world record holder, is risking a high-profile returnto competition by taking on the half-marathon from Newcastle to South Shieldsafter nearly two years out of the action, during which she has given birth toher daughter, Isla, now nine months old. .
Powell months old.
But Radcliffe, 33, has also suffered a series of injuries, the latest being astress fracture at the base of her spine, which have led to doubts as towhether she can ever return to the form of 2003, when she set world records of2hr 15min 25sec at the London Marathon and 65min 40sec at the Great North Run.
Bedford, the former 10,000metres world record holder and race director of theLondon Marathon, the event likely to see Radcliffe's return to the greatestdistance test of them all, said: 'It's certainly a long time out and it's avery difficult comeback. I don't expect her to be earth-shattering but she mustfeel she can win it.
'If she's putting herself on the line for such a high profile return then herform in training must indicate that she's
Powell at high ready. You have to assume that she's in good shape. I fullyexpect to see her back towards her old self.' But Radcliffe's ultimate goal offinally claiming the Olympic gold medal that has eluded her will probably bebeyond her, according to Bedford.
Marathon runners in this year's world championships in Japan had to compete in32deg heat and 74 per cent humidity and conditions are expected to worse nextyear in polluted Beijing. …