London 2012: Paula Radcliffe gets third crack at Olympic marathon

Ex-world champion and world record holder Paula Radcliffe will make her third bid for Olympic marathon success at London 2012

paula radcliffe
Radcliffe will make her fifth Olympic appearance at London 2012 Photo: Dethstar, via Flickr

paula radcliffe

Paula Radcliffe will make a third bid for Olympic marathon success after her Team GB place was confirmed by the British Olympic Association.

The world marathon record holder’s previous attempts were derailed by injury and illness, tearfully failing to finish in Athens and coming home a distant 23rd in Beijing.

However, she ran well inside the qualifying time when she clocked two hours, 23 minutes and 46 seconds at the 2011 Berlin Marathon, in only her second race since returning to the sport following the birth of her second child.

Her selection makes the 37-year-old only the third track and field athlete to appear in five Games, she competed on the track in Atlanta and Sydney, joining a list that includes 1984 Olympic javelin champion Tessa Sanderson and race walker Chris Maddocks.

“To represent your country at a home Olympics is something special and I’m over the moon to be selected for Team GB,” she said.

“I was pleased to get the qualifying time in Berlin earlier this year and my sole focus is getting in the right shape for London. I’m just fully concentrating on being fully prepared for next year.”

Mara Yamauchi and Scott Overall have also seen their selections confirmed, after securing the respective qualifying standards.

Yamauchi, who has spent the last two years battling injuries, is the second fastest British woman over the marathon distance and recently clocked two hours, 27 minutes and 24 seconds in Yokohama.

UK Athletics hope to be able to add to their team after the Virgin London Marathon next year with Jo Pavey, Claire Hallisey, Liz Yelling and Susan Partridge all battling for the one available women’s slot.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to have been selected. It’s a dream come true,” said Yamauchi.

“I’ve been working really hard for this and I’m so relieved to have been selected. It’s going to be a fantastic Olympics and I’m going to give it 110 per cent from now on in order to prepare myself as best as I possibly can.”

Overall has made a successful transition from track to road, finishing an impressive and surprise fifth in the Berlin earlier this year in two hours, ten minutes and 55 seconds – well within the UKA qualifying standard.

But if anyone joins him on the men’s team remains a moot point – former steeplechaser Andrew Lemoncello was hoping to achieve the qualifying standard in Fukuoka last weekend but has hampered by a hamstring problem and finished 31st.

His ambitions now rest on a make-or-break crack at the qualifying time in London, where he made an encouraging marathon debut two years ago.

“When I ran the qualifying time in Berlin in September I was hoping that would be enough to secure my selection and fortunately it has been,” said Overall.

“The marathon course is really spectator friendly so I can imagine the home crowd will be absolutely fantastic and the atmosphere will be amazing.”

Meanwhile, UKA head coach Charles van Commenee believes selecting the athletes early will give them a chance to fine tune their preparations for next summer.

“Scott’s debut marathon performance bodes well for the future, while Mara, who was sixth at the Beijing Olympics and Paula, the marathon world record holder, are both on their way back to the high standards they set themselves previously,” he said.

“All three athletes now have the opportunity to prepare themselves in the most ideal way for the Games. I expect them to represent Team GB well in London.”

© Sportsbeat 2011

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