It seems an apology might be in order.
It’s hard to remember back to those dim,
dark days before the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, but we seem to recall
local sports media (including us) dishing up plenty of criticism to English
distance runner Paul Radcliffe for not turning up.
Radcliffe pulled out of the event at more
or less the same time as Ian Thorpe succumbed to his mystery illness and
suddenly, for all the attempts at pre-Games hype, we were facing a second-rate
competition without many genuinely world-class athletes.
Radcliffe’s announcement mentioned that she
could still train happily for the London Marathon, just not compete in
Melbourne, which made two and two appear to equal a very straightforward four –
in that she would receive healthy appearance money in London, but nothing but
glory for her country, and a circle of metal on a string, in Melbourne. It
looked very much as though she was opting for the money.
However, this week, it turned out that we
all might have been a little hasty in assuming she was resting during Melbourne
to make sure she was fit enough to lift her giant cheque.
Radcliffe didn’t end up running in Sunday’s
London Marathon because of the same stubborn toe injury, saying:
“It was a decision that
bitterly disappointed me as the London Marathon is a race that is so important
for me and, after having to withdraw from the Commonwealth Games, it was what
this season was all about for me. I had to accept that my foot needs total rest
to clear it up. With many more goals and hopefully years of serious running and
racing left ahead of me, I didn’t want to do anything to jeopardise this.”
So, sorry, Paula and get well soon. Lucky
for everyone really that the Melbourne Games turned out to be bigger and better
than five Olympics, six World Cups and two “Almost Anything Goes” rolled into
one, even without you.
The only question remaining is whether the
rest of the Australian media will admit, “we were wrong”.