Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Paula Radcliffe, one of my favourite sportswomen, really has got it right.

"In endurance running, it's not about pumping lottery money in. It's about providing training opportunities, physiotherapy back-up and a little bit of encouragement."

Paula Radcliffe to invite the best of Britain's emerging talent to train with her in the Pyrenees

Paula Radcliffe is ready to play the perfect hostess by welcoming Britain's up-and-coming runners to her training base at Font Romeu in the Pyrenees. By Tom Knight

As a member of the superstar panel chaired by Lord Coe now helping to advise Ian Stewart as UK Athletics' new head of endurance, Radcliffe said she would be happy to give youngsters an insight on her unrivalled work ethic and by guiding them round the trails that have helped her become the world's finest marathon runner.

She said the reason it has not happened before is that no one ever asked.

One of Stewart's plans to inject new enthusiasm into Britain's prospects for London 2012 is to return to the squad training system that worked so well in the Seventies and Eighties.

Radcliffe said: "Ian has always said he couldn't believe that people don't want to come and train with me.

"I am in Font Romeu, on and off, for six months of the year and I would love to show people round, to co-ordinate squad training sessions and see British distance running get somewhere.

"When I was coming through as a junior, we went on squad training weekends. When you run with a squad, it pushes you.

"In endurance running, it's not about pumping lottery money in. It's about providing training opportunities, physiotherapy back-up and a little bit of encouragement.

"It's not that we don't have the talent in Britain. I think we do. But we need to show people what they need to do and perhaps take them out of their comfort zone.

"Font Romeu isn't the centre of things. It's a place you go to for training."

Asked if youngsters might feel intimidated about asking an athlete of her stature for help, Radcliffe said: "I'm not that unapproachable but I would probably have thought that about Liz McColgan when I was a junior.

"At the same time, I would still have grabbed the chance to go and train with her and to see what she was doing."

Radcliffe and McColgan, who is also on Coe's panel, have already discussed what they can do to help Britain's prospects and their ideas include sending runners to train with the former world record holder, Steve Jones in Boulder, Colorado.

For Radcliffe, an improvement in Britain's fortunes might have to mean a change of approach.

"We seem to have this mentality in Britain that says you should save it until you are a senior and not push things too much when you are young," she said.

"I'm not saying you should be running marathons at 18, but you have to know where you are heading and be training hard, not in terms of mileage but quality from the age of 15."

Radcliffe is expected to be named next week in the women's field for April's London Marathon.

The men's field, announced yesterday, includes the three medallists from the Beijing Olympics as well as Martin Lel, the three-time champion aiming for a record fourth victory.

The online article can be found here.

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