Paula Radcliffe finally realised her dream of winning a global title when she took the gold medal in the women's marathon at the World Championships in Helsinki.
The 31-year-old Briton set a new World Championships record of 2 hrs 20.57 mins, more than five minutes outside her 2003 world record, to give Britain its first ever marathon title in a global championships. It was also Britain’s first medal in the marathon at either a World Championships or an Olympic Games.
Radcliffe has finished fourth, fifth, second and fourth in World championship distance finals, was fourth in the 2000 Olympic 10,000m final and famously dropped out of the 2004 Athens Olympic marathon when she was the overwhelming favourite.
But in Helsinki, in conditions very different from the Athens heat, she led from start to finish in true Paula Radcliffe style, slowly but surely wearing down her rivals over the 42km course before pulling away from Romania’s Constantina Tomescu and Kenya’s defending champion Catherine Ndereba in the second half of the race.
There was little surprise about Radcliffe’s tactics. Front running over the years has brought her some famous victories, including three London marathons and two marathon world records. “It was hard out there but I enjoyed it quite a bit too,” she said. “Last year I had a lot of problems, but this season I just made sure I was healthy coming into Helsinki and just concentrated on what I wanted to do.