My Sportsman: Paula Radcliffe
After a tight finish in the women's 800-meters final at the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam, several of the tuckered competitors sprawled out on the track in exhaustion. The scene spurred articles proclaiming that distance-running was too dangerous for female runners. Events over 200 meters were banned from the Olympic Games for the next 32 years.
Boy, have times changed fast. As fast as running a 5:27 per mile. That's how quickly Britian's
In 2003, Radcliffe took women's marathon running to a new level with a world record time of 2:15:25. As harrowing as that mark is, it will be broken. But her success at training through all nine months of her pregnancy -- she monitored her heart rate for her baby's safety -- has set a new bar for the first generation of sub-2:20 mothers.
During the first five months of her pregnancy, the 33-year-old Radcliffe ran twice a day, including an 18:51 in a 5k race in her fifth month of pregnancy. She mixed in bicycling and aqua-jogging over the next two months before cutting back to one run a day. Radcliffe's pregnancy was followed by a stress fracture in her lower back, and by New York, it had been over two years since her last marathon. Some of her rivals understandably wondered whether the Radcliffe of old would show up. When she dropped a 4:59 second mile that shattered the pack, they had their answer.
When Radcliffe's run of winning marathons ends (if you can call it that given that she dropped out of the Athens marathon), it will be the end of a