Yelling: Radcliffe will only run if she is 100 per cent
LIZ Yelling believes Paula Radcliffe will only run in the Olympic Marathon providing she can guarantee avoiding one of her “calamaties”.
Radcliffe is the world record holder and a former world champion but has failed to hit form in her two previous Olympic outings.
She was favourite in 2004 in Athens but failed to finish the race because of illness and injury, while injury also hampered her progress in 2008, in Beijing, where she finished a disappointing 23rd.
Radcliffe’s recent form has not been sparkling either, the 38-year-old clocking her slowest-ever time in the Vienna half marathon last weekend and describing her return to action after 18 months out, last May, as “a disaster”.
Radcliffe wants to bow out on a high in London but Yelling, her former training partner, believes the veteran will only run in London if she is fully fit.
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Yelling, who is looking to secure the last place on the British team alongside Radcliffe and Mara Yamauchi in Sunday’s Virgin London Marathon, said: “It’s a drive to be on the start line with her again. It would be a nice way to finish both our careers in a way.
“I’ve trained with Paula since I was 10. I’ve been through all of her calamities.
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“I knew she was not in great shape before Vienna but I don’t think that’s a reflection of what she’s capable of. It was a badly-timed race for her, she’d been ill and on antibiotics.
“I think she still has a chance this summer. We can’t forget she ran 2:23 in Berlin last September.
“She will know the week or month before London (if she is fit) and I don’t think she will put herself in a position where it can turn out like her last two Olympics.
“If she doesn’t think she can run to her potential I don’t think she will put herself on the line. I think she wants to get herself there in one piece and with a trouble-free build up. Getting there not injured is the key this year.”
Yelling finished 24th in Athens, the first Briton home, and 26th in Beijing and the 37-year-old is keen on making her mark in the Capital.
“Athens was only my second marathon and was a massive learning curve, but before Beijing I had my best year, I was racing well and was really well prepared and confident,” she said.
“I think I led for the first nine miles and then got tripped at 10 miles. I went down quite hard and did not realise at the time that I had cracked a rib, and when I stepped up the pace I was unable to breathe.
“Of course that inhibited my ability to run and I was really annoyed that I couldn’t do as well as I wanted because I was on course to finish well in an Olympic marathon.
“There is something about it that drives you on and the Olympics is so special that it would be nice to prove what I am capable of in London.”
To do so first Yelling has to qualify, with Jo Pavey, who is third in the UK rankings, currently in pole position for the last place as a result of her run of two hours 28 minutes 24 seconds in London last year.
Pavey will sit out Sunday to concentrate on the summer, giving the likes of Claire Hallissey, Yelling and Louise Damen a chance to beat her time ahead of Monday’s selection.
“I have been in Jo’s position and it’s very nerve-wracking,” added Yelling.
“It’s a calculated risk for Jo and hopefully we can make her very nervous.”