Having ended her marathon career in London recently, Paula Radcliffe is now looking forward to having more time to spend on other roles, as well as running some shorter distance events in the future
Paula Radcliffe drew the curtain on her magnificent marathon career in London last month and now, after a holiday in Dubai and a short break from running, the world record-holder is looking forward to having the time to further explore other avenues.
The 41-year-old had been combining her running with roles including being involved with the IAAF Athletes’ Commission and the World Health Organization commission on ending childhood obesity as well as forming part of the BBC’s commentary teams and earlier this year she was also named as the Great Run series ambassador for women’s running.
Radcliffe’s passion for the sport means that after having inspired millions with her running performances, she now wishes to continue promoting what athletics has to offer, be that by doing things such as working with The Great Run Company to encourage women to get active, continuing her involvement with children’s participation or by supporting Sebastian Coe in his bid to become president of the IAAF. A zealous anti-doping campaigner, she is also keen to get more involved in that area, perhaps on a federation level.
Speaking at an event at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park where she took a group of women – Radcliffe’s Great Runners – on a training session ahead of July’s Morrisons Great Newham London Run, Radcliffe said: “Doing things like this, I’m really enjoying. I was starting to do some of it anyway (before retiring from competitive marathon running) but it’s being able to do a bit more of that now.”
On other areas she can see herself working in the future, she added: “Perhaps a bit more involvement with kids and maybe some more involvement on a federation level, whether it’s through anti-doping or something else.
“Certainly supporting Sebastian Coe in his bid for IAAF presidency,” she continued. “I really want to see him get in.
“I’ve put myself forward for more IAAF commissions – I’m already on the Athletes’ Commission but maybe now Dave Bedford has taken a step back on cross country I can put myself forward there as well.
“It’s just having more time to be able to commit to doing things like that.”
Coe announced his candidacy for IAAF presidency towards the end of 2014 and unveiled his manifesto in December. Among those challenging him for the top role is Ukrainian pole vault great Sergey Bubka.
In his manifesto, Coe details an action plan that promises to breathe fresh life into the sport and that is something Radcliffe believes is hugely important for the future of athletics.
“I think at the minute the sport is not at a crisis because numbers of people getting involved in running and athletics are growing all of the time, but I do think that as a federation the IAAF needs to look more about modernising it, about making it more media friendly, coming across better, hitting more target audiences,” she said.
“We are probably the biggest truly global sport but we need to make sure that as many people as possible see athletics and want to get started into it, because you’re competing with so many other things, not just things like computer games, but other sports.”
She added: “I think we really need somebody who is going to be brave enough to make those changes and really modernise it and bring it into the 21st century. I think Seb has showed that, with everything he did in 2012 and the huge success that was and the person that he is.”
Whatever she decides to focus on next, Radcliffe is sure to give it 100 per cent, such is the fighter in her. But when it comes to returning to the roads, will her future outings over 10km or half-marathon distances be approached similarly competitively?
“You can’t turn off that competitive instinct,” she said. “But the training, as it already has been over the last year or so anyway, is now kind of more for fun and enjoyment. But I’m lucky in that my whole career was pretty much for that. I mean, there were times when you’re in the middle of heavy 130 mile weeks when you’re just not sure if you want to go out for that evening run at the end of the week but most of the time genuinely I have enjoyed the training.
“I think I’ve been very lucky that I’ve been able to make my career doing something that I would have been trying to fit in around my work anyway.”
» Paula Radcliffe was talking at an event held to introduce ‘Radcliffe’s Great Runners’ for the Morrisons Great Newham London Run on July 19. To enter and have the opportunity to run in the former Olympic Stadium, visit www.greatrun.org/great-newham-london-run