Yesterday’s bad news for Paula Radcliffe is far more long-term than Beijing 2012. It doesn’t just represent a risk to one of our key medal hopes. Looking ahead, the real sadness here is that a truly great athlete faces ending her career without an Olympic marathon medal of any kind and that is truly unfortunate. The debacle of Greece aside, where all the reasons for her failure seem a little feeble, Paula Radcliffe has been a staggeringly good marathon runner with an almost peerless race record to go along with her world record.
But she has been unable to demonstrate her undeniable greatness on the most important stage of all. We can only hope that her assessment of her chances is more than a pipe-dream. With preparation time running out, pardon the pun, we are left fearing she will either be unable to be competitive or unable to run at all. I find it hard to believe she will still be at the top of her event when the games come to London in 2012 and that means Beijing is her last best chance of Olympic gold.
An athlete of her class needs these opportunities not to feel robbed at the end of their careers. And there will be a big hole in the centre of her trophy cabinet if she fails to make the games this year. My fingers are crossed. So should yours be.