Paula Radcliffe – The world is compassionate with you Paula
A degenerative foot joint problem had Paula to withdraw from Olympics after a fitness test was conducted and it was realized that it is not a good thing to compete eventually. For this action of hers, some critics, especially the press, may be condemning her that she has not won any Olympic medal in the end. However, if you ask me, I feel that running a marathon is not predictable. In 2008, I won the men local Standard Chartered Marathon Race 2008. In 2009, after doing a 15km run in 52min 30sec, I got myself injured. I was in top form at that time.
I saw Dr Benedict Tan about this. He did his level best to see me immediately to do something. However, it was found to be too late. I found out that I had a degenerative knee problem which is common to anyone reaching between the age of 40 and 45. That told me that it was lucky of me to sacrifice my time, money and effort in marathon when I was young and get the 2hr 24min 22sec in SEA Games, while Yvonne Danson got her Singapore record at the same time in Thailand. I somehow knew that the best time to improve my time was when I was young and not when I am old. When injury comes, it is not easy to cure it when the injury is going to take months.
As a fresh undergraduate of Loughborough University of Technology of the past, I remember Paula as a focused person in athletics. I saw her in the Loughborough Athletics Club room, once in a while. She usually follows her coach’s programme. Some of my friend like Tim Dickenson, a 2hr 23min marathon runner, who did this credible time over a period of time, used to eulogise about Paula’s mental strength and speed, when he did a hill repeats with her on Saturdays.
During my Tuesday and Thursday night training with Loughborough Athletics Club members, while running a hard tempo run, I had once seen Paula Radcliffe running with phenomenal speed doing her own tempo run, but of course it was not with us but a solo run on the opposite direction on the road. I was very impressed with her physical prowess then.
As a runner, I have seen even Ashley Liew reading her book several times on our journey to Gold Coast marathons and he did drew some inspiration from this avid long distance runner from England. For me, it is sad that she is injured and not able to run. I hope that people are compassionate of this unpredictable thing called injury in runner’s journey of running and be cautious not to rub salt on her wounds, and make things worse and cause more depression to her mood.
There is one thing that cannot be taken from her in life is that she is one of the great Britons and her marathon world record of 2hr 15min 25sec is up there for England’s athletic achievement, for now.
In 2004 Radcliffe was injured and over time, four years later, for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, she had fractured her femur. Instead of not running the marathon then she ran in Beijing, and went through great pain, and not give up the run for fear of what Britain and the unforgivable press would say.
We all should have the knowledge that Paula qualified for London Olympics nearly four minutes faster than anyone else in Britain. If the Olympics was 6 to 8 weeks back it was by guessed by experts that she could have competed in this year's Olympics. This reminds me of my 2009 Singapore Standard Chartered Marathon race that if the race was a month before the race itself, I would have done a sub-2hr 49min for sure, as at I can remember that I was getting much faster over time, until the injury came.
Hence, coming back to the story on Paula, I feel that true courage was shown by her when she told reporters, “ I would rather someone else, who can do that, is able to be there“. I think that this is important. When a person finds himself or herself not ready to run an International Game, he or she should first own up and give up the position to the next person behind rather than blocking and spoiling their chance as well. One must be selfless to do this. To block and run with injury and cite later that the cause for failure is injury just shows that one is selfish rather than showing selflessness. It is not a good thing to spoil other athlete's chance of their running an International competition, as at least the second best or third best could run to represent the country, as they have sacrificed their time, money and effort as well. That is the Olympics spirit and sportsmanship spirit that Paula has shown.
As for me, my compassion is always with her, as I feel that she is still the heroine of world women’s marathon race, as she is still the prevailing world record holder.