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This article is from the WebMD News Archive

Paula Radcliffe's osteoarthritis

Team GB's world record holding marathon runner's Olympic career ends with no medals as she pulls out due to osteoarthritis of the foot
WebMD UK Health News
Medically Reviewed by Dr Roger Henderson

30th July 2012 - You can be the best in a sport by holding a world record, but Olympic gold can still remain out of reach for some athletes, like Paula Radcliffe.

The 38-year-old marathon runner has had to pull out of London 2012 and forget chances of success on home soil, because of osteoarthritis of the left foot. The problem was first diagnosed in 1994, when she was told she'd never run again.

Does her injury send warning signs to amateur athletes? One expert tells BootsWebMD most of us will never get near the kind of punishment Paula's put her body through over the years.

Courage and determination

In a United Kingdom Athletics statement, Paula expressed her bitter disappointment while team managers praised her courage and determination over the years.

Paula Radcliffe said: "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. 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. Through a lot of tough times it has kept me fighting, motivated and focused. That is why it hurts so much to finally admit to myself that it isn't going to happen."

She spoke of trying everything she could to try to beat the injury: "However hard today is, finally closing the door on that dream, at least I can know that I truly have tried absolutely everything. Not one day was wasted in getting treatment, scans or interventions that might help. I cross trained as hard as I could whenever I was unable to run to give myself every chance should the pain settle.

"Now is the time to rest totally, give my body chance to recover and assess calmly what can be done and where I go from here."

Team GB athletics team leader Charles van Commenee says: "I think it is important that we don't look at Paula's career in Olympic cycles. She is undoubtedly one of the greatest female distance runners of all times and still holds the marathon world record.

"When we look back at her career it should be in the context of what she has achieved and not what she hasn't. I wish her all the very best for her recovery."

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