British Olympic marathon hope Paula Radcliffe has announced she will not compete in the Games, after the recurrence of an ongoing foot injury.
Fears that the problem would prevent Radcliffe from taking part had been growing as the race approached, with her coach Charles van Commenee saying last week that her hopes rested on “the flip of a coin”.
In a statement released today, Radcliffe confirmed that the long-term problem with osteoarthritis in her foot had ruled her out of the marathon on 5 August.
“I’ve been through the mill emotionally and physically in the past three weeks, cried more tears than ever, vented more frustration,” said Radcliffe. “And at the same time, calmly tried every direction and avenue available to heal myself.
“Through a lot of tough times [the aim of competing at London] has kept me fighting, motivated and focused.
“That is why it hurts so much to finally admit to myself that it isn’t going to happen.
“However hard today is, finally closing the door on that [Olympic] dream, at least I can know that I truly have tried absolutely everything.
“Now, however, is the time to accept that it is just not going to settle in time. As desperate as I was to be part of the amazing experience of the London Olympics, I don’t want to be there below my best.”
Radcliffe described the joint in her injured foot as “degenerative and badly damaged” but said she would not give up hope of running again.
“[It’s] the same foot I was told in 1994 I would never run on again,” she said. “I refused to believe it then, I refuse to believe it now.
“I will recover. Unfortunately, though, it’s not going to happen in just one week.”
Radcliffe’s withdrawal adds to her long list of Olympic woes. For four consecutive Games she has pursued an Olympic title, always falling short, whether through injury, lack of form or simply superior competition.
British fans will never forget the tear-jerking image from 2004 of a devastated Radcliffe hunched on an Athens roadside after dropping out of the marathon with injury and heat exhaustion four miles from the finish line.
And in Beijing in 2008 she finished 23rd following yet more injury troubles.
Radcliffe’s coach van Commenee said: “This is obviously a disappointing day for Paula and our sport but it was important to her that if she made the start line it would be in the best possible shape.
“It wasn’t meant to be and she has taken the right decision to withdraw at this stage.
“I think it is important that we don’t look at Paula’s career in Olympic cycles. She is undoubtedly one of the greatest female distance runners of all times and still holds the marathon world record.
“When we look back at her career it should be in the context of what she has achieved and not what she hasn’t. I wish her all the very best for her recovery.”
UK Athletics and the British Olympic Association have announced that Scotland’s Freya Murray will step in as Radcliffe’s replacement joining teammates Claire Hallissey and Mara Yamauchi to mount the home nation’s challenge.