Paula Radcliffe's hopes of winning a fairytale Olympic gold in London are over with news that she will not be competing in the marathon due to osteoarthritis in her left foot. News of Radcliffe's withdrawal came after she underwent a fitness test yesterday (Sunday July 29), which showed she wouldn't be able to compete to the best of her ability.
With an apparent lack of form leading up to the Games - including a 1:12:03 half-marathon in the Austrian half marathon - Radcliffe said the prospect of competing at London had kept her 'fighting, motivated and focused'.
In an official statement, she added: "However hard today is, finally closing the door on that [Olympic] dream, at least I can know that I truly have tried absolutely everything. Now however, is the time to accept that it is just not going to settle in time. As desperate as I was to be part of the amazing experience of the London Olympics, I don't want to be there below my best."
UK Athletics head coach Charles van Commenee said: "This is obviously a disappointing day for Paula and our sport but it was important to her that if she made the start line it would be in the best possible shape. It wasn't meant to be and she has taken the right decision to withdraw at this stage."
Despite holding the marathon world record, Radcliffe has never won an Olympic medal, with her highest placed finish in 2000 when she took fourth in the 10,000m. Van Commenee feels this statistic, however, should not overshadow her incredible career so far: "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."
Radcliffe's withdrawal, meanwhile, has resulted in Freya Murray receiving a nomination for the final marathon place. The Scottish runner recorded a 2:28:10 at London marathon, her debut over the 26.2 mile distance, and has been the unofficial reserve for the team. The British Olympic Association have now applied to the IOC for Murray to be accepted under the late athlete replacement policy, and will join Claire Hallissey and Mara Yamauchi for Sunday's race.