Well known for her dominance over the marathon, Paula Radcliffe is one of Great Britain’s most infamous athletes. Now still showing her prowess on the athletics scene, she can be found on television at almost every significant athletics event to date. Coached by her partner, dedicated to her studies, a role model to all..
When Paula first started showing signs of her global potential, it was not over the roads, it was on the mud and the grass of cross country. In 1992 – at just 19 years of age – Paula featured in her International debut, in the form of the Junior race at the World Cross – Country Championships in Boston, surprising many by coming away with a the gold medal in her first outing sporting a Great Britain vest. It was from that moment on, the world knew she was a serious athlete. However, as she transitioned into the senior ranks, Radcliffe didn’t make the podium again until 1997 – when her global dominance in the senior ranks was destined to start.
Year after year, Paula claimed podium positions in both World and European Cross Country Championships, yet was constantly missing out on medals on the track. This clearly showed, to herself and the world, that a change was needed, and a change sure occurred. In 1999 Paula competed in her first road race – the Great North Run – finishing third and proving her worth in a world class field over 13.1 miles. The year after, in the 2000 Great North Run, Radcliffe returned and won the race whilst breaking the European record in a time of 67:07. After this, it was clear that Paula needed to leave the track behind her, and pursue her future on the roads.
After her performance in the 2000 Great North Run, Paula got selected for the Great Britain team for the World Half Marathon Championships in Mexico. Despite having a panic attack half way through, she amazingly went on to win the race. It was clear Paula Radcliffe was at home on the roads. She went on to earn two more titles in the World Half Marathon Championships (2001, 2003).
In 2002, Radcliffe made the move up to the Marathon – a move that takes a lot of athletes a while to adjust to. However, Paula, defied the norm and won her debut in the London Marathon running a blistering time of 2:18:55, defeating the best East Africa had to offer in the process. Later that year (in only the first year of competing at the distance) Radcliffe set a new World Record of 2:17:18 in the Chicago Marathon – an act which lead the Queen of England to award her with an MBE, for her services representing her country.
After asserting her dominance on the Marathon scene only one year into her presence at the distance, Paula solidified her place in history by bettering her own World Record, revising it to a time of 2:15:25 in the 2003 London Marathon. Her World Record still stands today, as the might of East Africa claw at it, they can never seem to get close.
A sporting legend, key figure in the world of athletics and a face we all know – Paula Radcliffe – the fastest woman ever to run a Marathon.