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Interview with Paula Radcliffe

Aired February 26, 2010 - 16:48:51   ET



BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR (voice-over): Long-distance runner Paula Radcliffe is no stranger to record breaking. She holds the world record for the women's marathon. In 2003, she ran the 26.2-mile London course in just 2 hours, 15 minutes and 25 seconds, beating her own record by almost 1.5 minutes. She's also the world-record holder in both 10 and 20-kilometer road race disciplines.

Paula Radcliffe is so dedicated to her sport, it seems nothing will stop her, not even her asthma or the call of nature. Never deterred by a grueling training schedule, she returned to professional competition just eight months after the birth of her daughter, Ila. Now gunning for an gold medal in the 2012 Olympic Games, Paula Radcliffe is your "Connector of the Day."


ANDERSON: Well, a little earlier, Paula took off her training shoes to talk to me from her hotel room in Vancouver, where the Winter Olympics, of course, are coming to a close. And I began by asking her why a track athlete like her is out in Canada. This is what she had to say.


PAULA RADCLIFFE, ATHLETE (via Skype): Well, I'm here promoting the 2012 Olympics in Britain, working with Visit Britain. And really, we're just trying to encourage people to come and see what a great show Britain's going to put on and to also take the time to appreciate the diversity and the fun and the beauty that Britain has to offer.

ANDERSON: Paula, I believe it's raining. It's not snowing, is it?

RADCLIFFE: No, it's not snowing. I think it is up in Whistler, but it's not here.

ANDERSON: So you feel at home?



ANDERSON: You've held the world record for some eight years now. Do you worry about someone breaking that? How likely do you think it's going to happen at this point?

RADCLIFFE: Well, I mean, I think records are always there to be broken, and the nature of our sport is that is always progressing. We're always finding ways to improve and move forward. I'd love to be the one to improve it a little bit.

I know that when I set it, I absolutely gave it everything I had that day to really try and push it as far out there as I could and make it really tough for someone to break. But I know it's there to be shot at and I just hope it can last or I can be the one to beat it.

ANDERSON: I was going to say, good for you.

All right, let's get some viewer questions.

Rosie says, "How do you think London will cope with the 2012 Olympics? And do you prefer to compete on home turf?"

RADCLIFFE: Oh, absolutely. I mean, for me, the goal of winning at an Olympics has been a dream since I was a little girl. I never, ever imagined I'd have the opportunity to achieve that on home soil. And I know how great the British crowd to be and what a big advantage home turf can be (AUDIO GAP) and the support that will come behind us. Even for the Commonwealth Games in Manchester in 2002, I'll never forget the kind of roar in that stadium and the way it gave all of us athletes more energy to give a better performance.

ANDERSON: Let's talk about you and your running. Chelsea asks, "What are your motives and inspiration that make you participate in what is an awfully long run, the marathon at the profession -- and what do you want to achieve in the near future?"

RADCLIFFE: I guess what really sort of makes me tick when I run is I just love doing what I do. And I think that I'm very lucky in terms of being able to do something that I love doing and would be my hobby anyway as my career, and I'd like to keep that going as long as possible. And that is what really keeps me going through the difficult times -- the disappointments, the injuries. It's the fact that I want to get back to doing what I love doing.

ANDERSON: You've had some defeats. How difficult is it to come back from those bad times?

RADCLIFFE: Well, I mean, defeat is a part of sport, and winning and losing is kind of -- is what racing is about. So it's not so much the defeats, it's more, for me, I'd say, the disappointments when things have gone wrong through injury and illness, and you just feel so gutted because you spend so long training and preparing. Especially for something like the Olympics, comes around every four years and then you get injured or you get ill and you don't perform as you want and you just feel kicked in the stomach and it takes time to get over the mentally and to just sort of come back and put yourself out there for another hit.

ANDERSON: Paula, your husband is your coach. Do you ever get cross with each other? Do you ever shout at him? Does he ever push you too hard?


RADCLIFFE: I think probably the danger is that we would both like to push it a little bit too hard. So we both have to have a little rein backs in there.


No, I mean, most of all it's an advantage being together all the time and being able to sort of move around the world training and competing and have our family with us and then be able to appreciate it like that. But we do have to certain ground rules in terms of if there is a problem that we discuss it straight away. And the training doesn't come home with us and once we get home, that's about family time, not discussing the training.

ANDERSON: Paula, you're married and, of course, you're a mum as well. How do you juggle being a mother and a professional athlete?

RADCLIFFE: Well, the way I see it is I just -- I love being a mother and I'm really, really happy that we have Ila in our lives. And I think I've gotten to the point where -- I really had always imagined myself with children. I wanted to be a mom, I didn't want to leave it too late and ever feel that I resented my career for having made too difficult to have children. I didn't want to feel that I was putting anything on hold, I wanted to enjoy my career but enjoy my family life too.

And in many ways, yes, you have to be more organized and fit things in better and think more ahead when you're moving around with a small child, but it's so much fun as well and so rewarding. And I think it helps to give me a sense of perspective too. That at the end of the day when I come home, whether the training's gone well or whether racing's gone well or badly, Ila (ph) doesn't care. She's just thinking, oh, mama's home.


ANDERSON: Paula Radcliffe, your "Connector of the Day."