Paula Radcliffe says athletes going through their final preparations for this summer’s delayed Olympic Games must be careful not to overtrain before they get to Tokyo.
Radcliffe, who will be working on the Olympics as a commentator, believes this is a nervy time for the athletes involved.
“It’s a really tense time in any Olympic year, that fine line between piling everything into training and getting into the best shape possible and overcooking it a little bit, trying too hard,” she told Sky News.
She predicts a different set of winners than the ones we might have seen last year.
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Radcliffe added: “I remember saying to athletes this time last year when we were all in that hopeful stage where we thought this would last a couple of months and the world would get back to normal, the people who handled the uncertainly and were able to take each day at a time do what they could and not stress about what they couldn’t do would be the people who are going to succeed in Tokyo.”
But she predicts a successful Games for Team GB, with many options for medals.
“That strength we had last year with Dina (Asher-Smith) and Kat (Katarina Johnson-Thompson), she, unfortunately, had an injury but she is coming back from that and I think even if she is even close to 100 per cent fit, then she is a medal contender.
“I don’t have any doubt they have the capability to step up. Laura Muir too and Gemma Reekie – this has given her another year to build on the potential she showed indoors.
“Backing her up is Keely Hodgkinson, who came through and you’d never expected her to have an Olympic place had Tokyo gone ahead this time last year.
“This, for her, is an Olympic opportunity without too much pressure because she is the baby of the team. Athletes like that might come through and seize the opportunity and come away with a medal.”
While Paula won the London Marathon three times, the New York Marathon three times and held the women’s world marathon record for 16 years, the Olympics were never a happy hunting ground for her.
In four Olympic games, the closest she came to a medal was fifth and even with the now infamous “food processing” problems of 2004, she would not want to go back in time and try again.
She said: “I try not to do that – it’s one of my rules ‘no regrets’. Look back and learn from things that have gone wrong but don’t keep dwelling and don’t keep that bitterness and sadness boxed up and carry it around with me.
“If I look back at Atlanta [the 1996 Games] I did my finals that year and I finished fifth and I came off the track and didn’t think I’d run well but I didn’t think it was a failure.”
Radcliffe: Drug cheats will be there in Tokyo
When the 2020 Olympics get underway a year late in 90 days’ time, it will be thanks to an even bigger organisational effort than usual due to the pandemic.
Radcliffe is hopeful the Olympics in Tokyo will be drug-free but fears the coronavirus pandemic could allow potential drug cheats to pass under the radar.
“I would love for there one day to be a completely drug-free completely cheating-free Olympics,” Radcliffe said.
“I think we’re getting there but sadly I don’t think we’re there just yet. I think there will be people cheating in Tokyo and there will be people getting away with it because of the pandemic.
“The drug testing authorities haven’t been able to do their job as well as they normally would.
“Sadly, it won’t be drug-free but I think we are a step closer to the Utopia drug-free sport we’re looking for.”
Click here for Paula Radcliffe’s full interview with Sky News, in which she also discusses her father’s death and daughter’s cancer diagnosis.
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