Paula Radcliffe — Paula Jane Radcliffe (December 17, 1973) is an English long-distance runner and is currently the World Record holder for the marathon, which she set during the 2003 London Marathon, with a time of 2:15.25.
Radcliffe was born in Davenham, Cheshire, and studied modern languages at Loughborough University.
Radcliffe is not known for her sprint finish, and so to win a race must attack and leave her competitors behind, as was seen in the 10,000 metres at the 2000 Olympic Games, when despite leading for 24 laps out of 25, she finished fourth.
She also holds the world records for 10, 20 and 30km on roads. She twice won gold at the World Cross-Country championships (in 2001 and 2002), and in December 2003 became European Cross-Country champion for the second time, the only woman to have achieved this feat in the event’s ten-year history. Forced out of the Paris World Athletics Championships because of injury in 2003, her greatest moment on the track has been European gold at 10,000m in 2002. She has proved herself an incredible runner at distances as low as 5000m, too, running 14:31.42, just three seconds behind the world record, to win gold at the 2002 Commonwealth Games.
She was awarded an MBE in June 2002, and later in the year became the BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
Radcliffe was the favourite to win the gold medal in the marathon at the 2004 Olympic Games. However the Athens heat appeared to get to Radcliffe and having fallen into fourth place, Radcliffe retired from the race in tears at the 36km mark. Five days later, she started in the 10,000 metres but still suffering from the effects of the marathon, did not run well and again retired with 8 laps remaining after falling behind her competitors.
In her next competitive marathon she won the 2004 New York Marathon in a time of 2 hours 23 minutes 10 seconds.
Her athletic ability and commitment to training are accompanied by a strong belief in playing by the rules. She has frequently made high-profile condemnations of drug-cheating in athletics, most famously at the World Athletics Championships in Edmonton in 2001, when Radcliffe and team-mate Hayley Tullett held up a sign protesting against the reinstatement of Russian athlete Olga Yegarova, after Yegarova had tested positive for the banned substance EPO. Radcliffe also wears a red ribbon when competing to show her support for blood testing as a method of catching drugs cheats.