BRITAIN’S Paula Radcliffe admits her London 2012 medal hopes have suffered a major blow after she endured a deeply disappointing half-marathon defeat to Ethiopian distance king Haile Gebrselassie.
Radcliffe finished more than 11 minutes behind Gebrselassie at a head-to-head in Vienna yesterday with a time of one hour, 12 minutes and three seconds – her slowest ever over that distance.
In mitigation, the 38-year-old had only ceased antibiotics 24 hours earlier following bouts of bronchitis and pleurisy, but she was still surprised by her pace less than four months before the Olympics.
“It’s not as if there aren’t reasons,” said Radcliffe. “But even so I couldn’t have expected it to make that much difference. It is really concerning. I knew I wasn’t coming into the race in PB [personal best] shape but I didn’t expect it to feel that bad.”
Radcliffe was given a head start of seven minutes and 52 seconds – the gap between their personal bests – for the race, dubbed “The Emperor Versus the Queen”. But two-time Olympic 10,000m champion Gebrselassie, who has not qualified for London 2012, overtook her shortly after the 15km mark.