A degenerative joint injury forced three-time London Marathon winner Paula Radcliffe to sit out the Olympic races this year.
The 38-year-old runner had to withdraw from the London Games just one week before the opening ceremonies took place. While Radcliffe holds the world record for the 26.2-mile London Marathon, she has failed to win any medals in four previous rounds of Olympic Games.
"From the day when it was announced that London had won the bid, taking part and performing well in the London Olympic Games has been a major goal in my life," Radcliffe said in a statement. "The goal of a fifth Olympics in my home country, what better? The chance to make amends to myself for bitter disappointments at the previous two Olympics."
While training for the Summer Games, Radcliffe was attempting to overcome a “degenerative and badly damaged” joint in her left foot. Although Radcliffe expects to recover fully from the injury, she realized that she was not going to be able to perform at the Olympics with her usual speed and stamina, and regretfully opted to decline.
“I have been through the mill emotionally and physically the past three weeks, cried more tears than ever, vented more frustration and at the same time calmly tried every direction and avenue available to heal myself,” Radcliffe told reporters. “I don't want to be there below my best,” she added.
Running with an injury is nothing new for Radcliffe: She was in such pain during the 2004 Athens Olympics marathon that she failed to finish. And, she was recovering from a stress fracture in her thigh when she ran in Beijing in 2008.
Radcliffe last won a marathon title in 2008. She is renowned for winning the marathon at the 2005 World Championships in Athletics in Helsinki, but that victory came at a price. She began to experience back, hip, and toe problems that have affected her running to this day.