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General News With the bookies quoting odds of 4

Hot favourite Radcliffe relaxed but not complacent in lead up to title defence

Hot favourite Radcliffe relaxed but not complacent in lead up to title defence
Sean Wallace-Jones for the IAAF
22 March 2002 – Dublin, Ireland – With the bookies quoting odds of 4-6 on for Paula Radcliffe to win the women’s long course race here tomorrow, the defending champion was relaxed as she addressed the media after walking the Leopardstown course this morning.

The absence of her Ethiopian rivals Gete Wami, Derartu Tulu and Berhane Adere have further increased the likelihood of a successful title defence for the 28-year-old Briton who will follow Saturday’s race with her debut in the marathon in London on 14 April.

But despite her position as the hot favourite, Radcliffe is far from complacent: “You just have to be prepared for someone coming out in awesome shape,” she commented. “I just go out there and run my race and try to watch everyone at the same time. It is going to be a strong race even without the three Ethiopians.

“I am happy with my shape at the moment. I will not say that it is better or worse than it was last year; I have been doing longer runs in preparation for the marathon and this has left me very strong and my recovery has been very good after the sessions.”

Radcliffe has just spent three days with renowned Irish physiotherapist Gerard Hartmann where, she laughs: “there was a lot of leg rubbing and I will be going back there after this weekend for some more. I am feeling good.”

With the weather relatively dry, the course is fairly firm at the moment and to Radcliffe’s liking: “It’s a good course; half of it is very testing, with long grass and half is downhill and should be very fast. Of course, if we get some rain (which is forecast for this evening) that could make the going a lot heavier.”

In the past, Radcliffe had expressed some liking for what many call the ‘traditional cross country’, mud and more mud, but after last year’s extreme conditions in Ostend, she says that this has changed, “I must say that after last year my feelings about running in mud have changed a lot.”

As it is, the forecast for the weekend is generally clement, with the possibility of some light showers and temperatures of around 12-15 degrees centigrade, almost on the warm side for a cross country competition.

Would a victory in Dublin be less important to Radcliffe than her first World Cross title in Ostend?

“Not really, to win the World Cross Country Championships is an amazing achievement so to win a second time will be as good as the first.”