MARATHON world record holder Paula Radcliffe fears her competitive career could be over, after complications with a long-term foot injury.
The 39-year-old discovered in 2007 that she had been running with a broken bone in her left foot for 18 years and subsequently had an operation to repair the damage.
Radcliffe, whose last competitive race was a half marathon in Austria in April 2012, had further surgery in August to remove a screw and scar tissue from the same foot.
But, after a longer than expected recovery process, Radcliffe is facing up to the possibility that she may never run again.
“I’m very much in that limbo where I know and accept that realistically it may not be possible,” she said.
“But at the same time I have a little window of hope and I would rather be able to finish my career in a race, rather than a race I can’t actually get to the start line of. I’ve not even been able to run after the kids in the last few months and you start to think about the first goal, to get back and be able to have a normal active life.
“I would love to be able to run a couple more marathons before I finish, but I would still like to have a healthy foot in 20 years’ time.”
■ Won 10,000m silver medal at the World Championships in 1999
■ Commonwealth Games 5,000m champion in 2002. In the same year won Chicago Marathon in a world record 2:17.18 and voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year
■ In 2003 won second London Marathon in world record 2:15.25
■ Won marathon gold at World Championships 2005