Saturday, May 7, 2011

'Win gold in London then retire? No, I'd keep going

Demure, and so softly spoken that even my Philips 860 Voice Tracer strains to pick up her words, Paula Radcliffe is nevertheless possessed of a disconcertingly direct, unflinching gaze, holding my eyes with hers for the entire 45 minutes of our encounter. It is the only outward manifestation of the ferocity of her drive, the unquenchability of her spirit. And she is looking forward to next year's Olympic Games in much the same way, with an almost scarily intense, unyielding focus. As she says herself, everything she does "is a stepping stone to London 2012, everything is working back from that".

The first major stepping stone was meant to be next weekend's Great Manchester Run, the race she and her husband and coach, Gary Lough, had earmarked as her return to competitive running after a break of almost 18 months, during which she gave birth to their second child, Raphael.