sport

The Football Memories Project

 

 

Yesterday afternoon I visited the Football Memories exhibition at Hamilton Central Library. The project is coordinated by the Scottish Football Museum, Sports Heritage Scotland and Alzheimer’s Scotland who are working together to create a network of football memories which will help to fight the battle against dementia.

The Football Memories project was set up in 2008, and utilizes group discussions, still images, memorabilia, and short film clips about football to stimulate recall in people with Alzheimer’s. These group discussions are led by trained volunteers who spend time with dementia sufferers who have long admired the game of football. The volunteers share images, stories, and memorabilia from former players and favourite teams in the hope of triggering personal memories. The workshops aren’t exclusive to dementia sufferers, rather they are open to all, particularly those who may be lonely or isolated.

The project comes to life through its incredible volunteer work force and through the Football Memories website. The online source offers a comprehensive database of unique and personal stories from fans around the world. The long-term goal of the project is to eventually collate a book which gives access to an entire spectrum of personal, and inspired memories.

The volunteers coordinating the Football Memories clinics really put on a show! They have great enthusiasm and some fantastic stories to tell. The story telling is really something, and is great fun for any football fan. Whether you’re a Bully wee or a Hibee, there is something for everyone.

There are currently over 130 Memories groups in Scotland, and there is great access to these groups through social media. The Football Memories Scotland Facebook page is full of information, including contact details and website information, and gives an insight into some of the work that will be looked at within the group discussions.

Memories, of course, form a crucial part of our being. They allow us to perform behaviours, and communicate with loved ones. The purpose of the Football Memories project is to encourage those with dementia, or indeed any one suffering with some degree of memory recall, to boost self-confidence, morale, and self-esteem.

There is sadly no cure for dementia but the Football Memories clinics stimulate emotive feelings and memories, most of which are a reminder of happier, or indeed more youthful times in the sufferer’s life. Carers, and sufferers alike, have noted the positive impact the project has had on dementia sufferers, notably in their self-confidence and communication. Football Memories has offered the chance for people to re-connect with their healthy and happy mind, and in doing so has allowed the sufferer to re-connect with their family and friends who care for and love them.

I spent the afternoon browsing the memorabilia on show and as I walked around the room I found that the objects on display had a profound effect on me.  In my early twenties, addicted to technology, I found myself not looking down at my phone but rather I was engaged in a full-on football discussion with a gentleman who had attended the European Cup final at Hampden in 1960 between Real Madrid and Eintracht Frankfurt. Real Madrid won 7 – 3 in front of 127,000 spectators at our own national stadium. He even recalled being at both semi-final home and away legs when Rangers were beaten 12 – 4 on aggregate by the German side.  Now if I was hooked knowing maybe only one o1960_european_cup_finalr two of the Real Madrid players, you can imagine what someone with dementia might gain from having such an inspired conversation. The volunteer, a big Rangers fan, I believe his name was Billy (no joke!), was great fun and was telling story after story after story!

The Football Memories project is fun, informative, rich, enlightened, and pure dead brilliant! It really is for everyone. At its core, the principle of the project is to share and record some of the greatest football stories that have been experienced through the lives of dedicated football fans. To sit, listen and relax whilst engaged in a memory group or to talk, share and recall whilst in a memory group is truly a wonderful experience, it’s no wonder I walked out that room today feeling ten feet tall.

A marvelous project, coordinated by fantastic volunteers.

Please get involved. Join a group. Lead a group. Simply come along and listen, I promise you it is so worth the journey.

 

You can follow Football Memories on Twitter @FblMemories and on Facebook @FootballMemoriesScotland.

Please like, follow and share this tremendous project.

 

 

Reference

http://www.footballmemories.org.uk/content/get_involved/

https://www.facebook.com/pg/footballmemories/about/?ref=page_internal

https://twitter.com/FblMemories

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fnkuDpUYodI

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Futsal in Scotland: What’s the Problem?

Futsal, Futsala or Futebol de Salão, is a game played on a field the same size of a basketball court. It is played with a smaller sized ball (size 2 or 3), which is heavier in weight (roughly 465g) and has virtually no bounce. The game has been valorized for its ability to create an environment in which players will gain 600% more touches on the ball and has single handedly developed the ‘natural ability’ of some of the world’s best players. The truth is that there is nothing ‘natural’ about it! Futsal, its rules, pitch size, ball size, squad size etc etc etc has and will continue to create and nurture the best footballing talent in the world.

So why on earth are we not copying the formula of soccer success?

Tonight, England will take on Scotland in the World Cup Qualifiers and I couldn’t be any less excited if I tried! And I’m not the only one. Adrian Durham, football journalist and broadcaster, slammed the England national squad selection and felt Southgate’s choices were ‘unimpressive and underwhelming’. As a Scotland fan, of course my home nation, I would love to tell you how eager I am to watch the game but truly I couldn’t give two monkeys! Sure, an underdog story is on the cards but in reality tonight’s fixture only shows the poor quality of player that both nations have produced in the past two, maybe three, decades. Where is Denis Law, King Kenny Dalglish, Jimmy ‘Jinky’ Johnstone, Dave McKay, Billy Bremner, Jim Baxter and the list goes on!  Guys who could dribble a ball around 10 men in a telephone box! Where has it gone? There is no one in the England squad or the Scotland squad that excites me or entertains a crowd the way that those guys could, and it worries me and has done for years!

Fancy fields at Toryglen in Glasgow, the Orium in Edinburgh, St George’s Park just outside London and even the newly built Wembley Stadium haven’t produced or even witnessed players like the legends of old (auld) listed above. It’s sad. We spend our time and effort focusing on big budgets, and the need to fund this and the need to fund that when all that the single greatest footballing nation in the world are doing is sitting there with their thumbs up their arses as young boys and girls, of their own accord, grab a ball, create some make shift goals and play the game for the games sake! That single greatest footballing nation I am referring to is of course the mighty Canarinho, the Verde-Amarela, Pentacampeões…..The Brazilian National Football Team.

5 times World Champions. I’ll repeat that. 5 times World Champions.

We know how they’re doing it. I’ll repeat that. We know how they are doing it. But we appear to continue with the dull and utterly tedious notion that this formula cannot be repeated in Scotland. Why?

“We don’t get the right weather in Scotland”

“The kids are nae interested anymere!”

“It’s in the genes, you’ve either goat it or you’ve no!”

Pish!! How many times have you sat in a pub and heard this nonsense!

Jimmy Johnstone had it, Jim Baxter had it. In the month of June 1967, after winning the European cup, 100,000 fans at the Bernabéu Stadium stood and applauded the wee man, and couldn’t give a jot about Alfredo Di Stefano. Jimmy stole the show with an unforgettable performance that had even the Madrid supporters chanting “Olé!” throughout the game in appreciation of his marvelous flair and footwork.

Now I realise Jimmy was special, and I may be asking too much but we done it once, in fact we’ve produced these players time and time again, so why has production stopped?

In the same year Jimmy had the Bernabéu on its feet, Jim Baxter had Wembley Stadium up in arms. Baxter teased the newly crowned World Champions by keeping the ball in the air mid game before passing it on to Denis Law, who probably wondered if he was ever going to give the ball up. Now if any Scottish player was to replicate Baxter’s cheeky keepie uppy trick this evening I would be most willing to run down the pub to watch the game, but it simply won’t happen.

It’s like we’ve forgotten how to play, or indeed why we played in the first place and I believe Futsal holds the answers to our questions.

More contact time with the ball, keeping control of it in tighter, smaller spaces creating an environment in which decision making is the principle focus. The decisions you make in the game and the faster you can think is the only way you will out smart and beat your opponent. Neymar, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suarez, probably the four best players in the world right now, are all products of this small sided and simple game.

Now, Scotland has taken steps to introduce Futsal however there are still some problems. The Scottish Futsal League, founded in 1997, partnered with the Scottish FA to deliver an “Adult Futsal League structure within Scotland”. Now this is all well and good, and it is great that there are now almost 700 adults playing futsal in six leagues across Scotland however this won’t benefit our national team, or indeed our national league, in the long term. Kids are the future, and they are the ones who need to be participating in this sport if we are to develop any real future football prospects.

Give credit where credit is due, the Scottish FA have now implemented a six-hour Futsal coaching course, called ‘Introduction to Futsal’. The course is open to anyone over the age of 16 and will focus on theoretical background, including the rules and history of the sport, as well as covering the various practical techniques. Having this structure in place can only benefit our appreciation and involvement in Futsal, but is it enough? Hopefully this course will quickly develop, and with time I hope it can expand to create its own unique coaching pathway within the Scottish FA coaching structure. The good thing is that Futsal is growing in popularity and now has a place in Scottish sport but its popularity, structure and presence needs to be far greater if we are to achieve any success.

Another keen development to be admired is the set-up of the Scottish Youth Futsal Federation. The federation was founded in 2015 and was created to promote futsal in Scotland while supporting local, regional, national and, recently, international youth futsal events. The focus is on young footballers’ participation, specifically reaching out to boys and girls from U9s to U17s. During the month of September, the SYFF hosted the IFA Youth Futsal World Cup in Dundee at the Dundee International Sports Centre. This is a tremendous achievement and a huge step in the right direction. There is no doubt that young people are picking up a futsal and getting involved, but there is still more to be done. Most young players are involved at club level, and unfortunately we find that most of the time these young players will get less contact time with the ball because they are engaged in fitness sessions or SAQ, when right now at the early stages all young players need is touches of the baw (ball)!

It’s no secret that across Britain futsal has struggled to gain sponsorship and valuable financial structure however with the set-up of these organisations Scotland may just have got the leg up on the competition. Tennents’ Wellpark Brewery, a famous Glasgow brewing company, sponsors the Scottish National Futsal League and now the Scottish National Futsal Team, whilst additional support also comes from Spanish sports clothing manufacturer, Joma. Again, this shows the tremendous effort being made to develop futsal in Scotland and truly highlights the growing popularity of Scottish futsal.

I admire those who are trying to push Futsal in Scotland, because they are truly making a difference. To those who are running the Scottish Futsal League and growing the popularity of the sport, I commend you for doing what needs to be done. I strongly believe that Futsal is the answer to our problems. Not facilities or finance, just pure and simple game structure. Players need less time to think, and more time with the ball at their feet.

The success of Futsal in Scotland so far has been the organisation of the first-ever Scottish Futsal Cup, the implementation of the futsal specific coach education course, and the commitment to entering the Scotland National Futsal Team into the 2017 European Championships. These achievements highlight the work being done at all levels of the game, but we need to do so much more to gain the real, long term benefits of Futsal.

The real success, of course, would be the grand reopening of the production line that produced so many great Scottish footballers, that have been recognised the world over. It would be finding a player that can take on 2 or 3 players only to go back and take all of them on again and win. Just the way it used to be; now that would truly be a delight to see.

 

England v Scotland

World Cup Qualifier: Group F

11th November 2016

Kick off 7:45pm

 

Mon the Scotland!

Reference List 

http://braziliansoccerschools.co.uk/index.php

http://talksport.com/football/pathetic-state-affairs-listen-adrian-durhams-england-rant-drivetime-161107216426#wmb02JAZGHD4ggPV.99

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/get_involved/4197976.stm

http://www.scottishfa.co.uk/scottish_football.cfm?page=3970

http://www.scottishfa.co.uk/scottish_football.cfm?page=3498

http://www.scottishfa.co.uk/scottish_fa_news.cfm?page=1848&newsID=16266

http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/sport/local-sport/futsal-scotland-make-history-win-7856962#sPIL1YRTZUelFi3a.97

http://www.youthfootballscotland.co.uk/component/k2/item/18949-futsal-world-cup-comes-to-scotland.html

http://www.scottishyouthfutsal.co.uk/aboutsyff/

http://www.fourfourtwo.com/performance/training/neymar-jr-futsal-street-football-and-tricks

Gender in Sport: What’s the problem?

Gender is difficult to categorise. Masculinity and femininity balance on a spectrum that ranges from one extreme to another, which can create confusion and uncertainty. Yet there are dominant representations of both masculinity and femininity expressed through mediated sport. These popular representations, conveyed through the dominant narrative, construct a binary definition of gender. Women are expected to behave in a feminine manner and men are expected to act in a masculine manner.

The dominant representation of masculinity defines men as being powerful, vigorous, assertive and courageous. Male athletes who achieve great success embody the dominant and popular understanding of masculinity. Male heroes within sport are worshipped for possessing these masculine traits.  The athletes chosen to represent and reaffirm the dominant masculine ideology are typically white, middle class and heterosexual.

Femininity is defined in stark contrast to masculinity. A female sports person is “required to be both heroic – superior or exemplary in some way – and female – inferior by definition” (Thompson, 1997:397). Furthermore, female athletes are expected to express certain nurturing qualities which reaffirm the dominant narrative which portrays women as being protective, attentive, and tender, compassionate and unselfish. Female athletes who are chosen to represent hegemonic femininity are typically white, middle class and heterosexual.

Within both masculinity and femininity there are marginalised groups, who are excluded from the mainstream media and the popular narrative. These sub groups form a part of the individuals’ identity which is not fully accepted in society for a number of reasons. Additionally, these undesirable representations have been excluded from narrative and are perceived as ‘others’ and outsiders within society. As a result, these ‘others’ have been restricted in terms of participation, they have been misrepresented, deemed improper and stigmatized.

Stigmatized gender groups may include homosexuals, ethno religious identities, racial groups, class and people with a disability. Particular to men, stigmatized gender groups could also include “anti-sexist masculinities, men who don’t like sport, pacifist masculinities” (Whannel, 2002: 28). These marginalized groups are identified as being unalike and contrasting to the dominant gender ideology.

Modernized sport, which integrates standardised rules and specialisation, was created in Britain in the late 19th and early 20th century “by and for white, middle class men” in order to boast a dominant masculine ideology of innate primacy and supremacy, especially above women. Furthermore, sport has been used to instill the principles of hegemonic masculinity, whilst inflicting the stigmatized and marginalised sub groups to a silent existence. This dominance was, and continuous to be, a social construction.

At the present time, male sport is given precedence within the media, while female sport is given less attention. The disproportional media coverage manufactures a distinct divide between what women and men should and should not do. Importantly, the media appears to control and preserve the dominant masculine ideology by influencing the types of sport that each gender participates in.

The type of sport men and women participate in is important. It is important because each sport requires different bodily movements and different roles and responsibilities. Therefore to construct a popular narrative that describes gymnastics as a girl’s sport, would suggest that female athletes are better suited to individual sports that are elegant, technical, avoid contact and are aesthetically pleasing. Consequently this narrative, as well as encouraging women to participate, could deter men from taking part.

Mediated sport has constructed discriminatory and preferential coverage, which has resulted in a society dominated by patriarchy. The media, and the narratives it constructs, possesses the power to reaffirm the differences between masculinity and femininity within the realms of sport, moreover the media can belittle female athlete success and reaffirm hegemonic masculine ideology. The importance of this narrative is the construction of myth surrounding such sporting events and athletes, and the implications of these constructed symbols on gender identity. Narrative constructs an ideological discourse which seeks to either oppose or approve gender ideology. Fundamentally, the main purpose of mediated sport narrative is to nourish common and ill informed beliefs and identities relative to gender.

Narrative within mediated sport gives rise, predominantly, to a hegemonic masculine ideology that reinforces and re-imagines a society ruled by patriarchy. As a consequence of this constructed ideology gender differences and definitions of gender are difficult to locate. There is confusion within what it means to be masculine and what it means to be feminine, and importantly under what circumstances. What is known within this dominate imagined masculinity is that it is characterized within the media narrative as being white, heterosexual, aggressive and wealthy. Furthermore, it is perceived that masculinity is characterized in contrast to its significant other, femininity. Contrary to masculinity, femininity is characterized as being submissive and disproportionately delicate. Additionally within mediated sport female athletes are framed as sexual objects. Importantly, both gender ideologies display an explicit stance against homosexuality. It is almost forbidden within all media narrative. Furthermore, racial identities are restricted within the narrative upon the basis of the athlete being both successful and capable of financial gain. These assumptions created by the media narrative construct gender as a binary configuration, whereby an individual is either masculine or feminine. This is not the case. Especially while it remains unclear as to the definitions regarding both genders. What should be noted is that this is done within mediated sport in the most subtle of forms. The narrative is merely a product, and a re-submission, reproduced over time that constructs presumptions and imagined gender ideologies which lend to a chosen hegemonic power.

 

 

 

 

Reference List

 

Hargreaves, J. (2000) Heroines of Sport: the Politics of difference and identity. London, Routledge

 

Boyle, E. (2014). ‘Requiem for a “Tough guy”: Representing Hockey Labor, Violence and Masculinity in Goon’, Sociology of Sport Journal, Vol. 31, No. 3, pp. 327-348.

 

Scraton, S. & Flintoff, A. (2002) Gender and Sport: a reader. London, Routledge

 

Whannel, G. (2002) Media Sports Stars: Masculinities and Moralities. London, Routledge

 

Kennedy, E. and Hills, L. (2009) Sport, Media and Society. Oxford: Berg

 

Archetti, E. (1999) Masculinities: Football, Polo and the Tango in Argentina. Oxford, Berg

 

Allain, K. A. (2011). ‘Kid Crosby or Golden Boy: Sidney Crosby, Canadian national identity, and the policing of hockey masculinity’, International Review for the Sociology of Sport, Vol. 46, No. 1, pp. 3 – 22.

 

Atencio, M. Beal, B. and Yochim, E. C. (2013). “It Ain’t Just Black kids and white Kids”: The Representation and Reproduction of Authentic “Skurban” Masculinities’. Sociology of Sport Journal, Vol. 30, No. 2, pp. 153-172.

 

Boyle, E. (2014). ‘Requiem for a “Tough guy”: Representing Hockey Labor, Violence and Masculinity in Goon’, Sociology of Sport Journal, Vol. 31, No. 3, pp. 327-348.

 

Cooky, C. Dycus, R. and Dworkin, S. L. (2013). “What makes a woman a woman?” Versus “Our first lady of sport”: A comparative analysis of the United States and the South African Media Coverage of Caster Semenya’, Journal of Sport & Social Issues, Vol. 37, No. 1, pp. 31-56.

 

Ho, M. H. S. (2014). ‘Is Nadeshiko Japan “Feminine?” Manufacturing Sport Celebrity and National Identity on Japanese Morning Television’, Journal of Sport and Social Issues, Vol.  38, No. 2, pp. 164-183.

 

Khomutova, A. and Channon, A. (2015). ‘Legends’ in ‘Lingerie’: Sexuality and Athleticism in the 2013 Legends Football League US Season’, Sociology of Sport Journal, Vol. 32, No.2, pp. 161-182.

 

McDonald, M. G. and Birrell, S. (1999). ‘Reading Sport Critically: A Methodology for Interrogating Power’, Sociology of Sport Journal, Vol. 16, No. 4, pp. 283-300.

 

Mwaniki, M. F. (2012). ‘Reading the career of a Kenyan runner: The case of Tegla Loroupe’. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, Vol. 47, No. 4, pp. 446-460.

THE SACKED ONE.

So Mourinho has been sacked, and the world wants to know – who will fill the special one’s boots?

The Blues, and Abramovich, have a great history of sacking. No seriously, it works!

MOURINHO GOES, GRANT IN (THE FIRST TIME)

Lets go back to 2007, the first time Mourinho was sacked. Under the Portuguese manager, from 2004 – 2006, Chelsea won their first league title in half a century, and followed it up with another, and had claimed the FA Cup and League Cup. Yet tension has been mounting as Mourinho’s relationship with owner Roman Abramovich became increasingly irritable. The manager caused further quarrel over the appointment of Avram grant as the director of football, a role that Mounrinho opposed. The hierarchy were infuriated over the managers’ behaviour and, with Chelsea fifth, Mourinho was sacked after a disappointing Champions League draw against Rosenborg.

Avram Grant replaced Mounrinho and despite losing to Manchester United in his first league game, Chelsea would go on to lose only one game in 32 under Grant in the Premier League. That season under Avram Grant, Chelsea finished 2nd in the Premier League, were runners up in both the League Cup and the Champions League.

SCOLARI LOST THE DRESSING ROOM AND THE DUTCH MAN FOUND IT

The Brazilian, Scolari, never got to grips with club management at Chelsea. Fan favourites John Terry and Frank Lampard were the biggest names amongst the sceptics that were confused by the managers’ methods. Scolari barely lasted 7 months. The final straw was a nil nil draw against Hull City at Stamford Bridge where the Blues had only won 6 in 13 home matches. Chelsea, at the time, were 4th in the table and still remained in the FA Cup and the Champions League. The Brazilian was gone.

Dutchman, Guus Hiddink, would replace him as interim manager. He is the favourite to take the job again following the sacking of Jose Mourinho this afternoon. Under Hiddink, Chelsea lost only once in 23 matches. He lead the team to a successful Champions League campaign, reaching the semi final only to be put out by FC Barcelona. The Light Blues finished 3rd in the league and won the FA Cup.

THE INEXPERIENCED BOAS, REPLACED BY HIS APPRENTICE DI MATTEO

It all seemed too much for André Villa – Boas. The manager attempted to revamp the squad, while facing constant challenges and opposition during his first taste of Premier League football. The clubs experienced players were quickly dissatisfied with Boas methods’ and the teams’ performance suffered because of it. Results began to decline, Chelsea slid down the table while others moved up. Villa – Boas suffered a 3 – 1 first leg defeat to Italian side, Napoli, in the knock out stages of the Champions League. Soon after, his team would slump to a 1 – 0 away defeat at West Brom. This was the final nail in the coffin. The decision was made, and Boas was gone.

His replacement, and club assistant, Di Matteo would make a lasting impression on the West London club. The Italian had a great relationship with the Chelsea players, and this helped restore some faith amongst the experienced players that were heavily criticised during Boas reign. The league form never really recovered and Chelsea finished in 6th place – the lowest position under Abramovich. However, Di Matteo will forever be remembered for his magnificent cup double. After a poor start Chelsea finished he season as FA Cup winners and under Di Matteo the club won their first European Cup beating Bayern Munich on penalties. Perhaps, Abramovich should have sacked Mourinho sooner – you never know!

SO WHO IS NEXT?

Juande Ramos and Guus Hiddink are the favorites to succeed Jose Mourinho at Stamford Bridge, but Pep Guardiola is the long-term bet. Carlo Ancelotti, Rafael Benitez and even Brendan Rodgers have been named as contenders for the job.

Whoever it may be, the replacement for the most successful manager in the club’s history must ensure safety in the Premier League and hope for a prolonged and successful Champions League campaign.

Chelsea will return to domestic competition when they play Sunderland on Saturday at Stamford Bridge (3pm KO).

 

PAULA RADCLIFFE – Simply the Best!

Virgin Money London Marathon Preview Press ConferencesTomorrow morning Paula Radcliffe, aged 41, will run her final competitive marathon at the scene of her greatest triumph as a long distance runner.

The Virgin Money London Marathon will be host to Radcliffe’s final act. It is the stage where in 2003 Radcliffe set the women’s record time at 2 hours, 15 minutes and 25 seconds. This is seen as one of the most imposing records in world athletics.

………..

Unfortunately Radcliffe has been forced to bow out of elite competition due to a recurring injury in her left foot however the legacy she has made leaves much to commemorate.

Paula Radcliffe has been a stand out figure in the fight against doping in elite sport. A year before her quite remarkable record beating run, the British athlete asked the International Association of Athletics Federations to increase the frequency of her doping tests.

Radcliffe’s physiotherapist, Gerard Hartmann, even insisted that Radcliffe would meticulously check her water bottles pre race to check that the bottles had not been contaminated without her knowing.

………..

Paula Radcliffe has been an outstanding British athlete; there is no one quite like her.

Radcliffe has won the London marathon 3 times in 2002, 2003 and 2005. She has done the same in New York in 2004, 2007 and 2008 also winning the Chicago marathon in 2002.

This great athlete has represented her nation in several international competitions including the European championships, World championships, the Commonwealth Games and the Olympic Games.

Sebastian Coe, the man behind the success of the London 2012 Olympic Games, has commented that Radcliffe is a pioneer of women’s sport and has made an impact on wider society, he said:

“She gave women permission to feel they could go out and run and be part of the London Marathon….A generation of runners, male and female, have taken up the sport because of Paula Radcliffe.”

………..

Radcliffe’s athletic success was testament to her tremendous fitness levels and unique tolerance for pain.

At the age of 17, sports scientist Andrew Jones discovered that a young Radcliffe possessed an unbelievable capacity for oxygen. Radcliffe, at such a tender age, had a VO2 max of 70. This is the highest of any female athlete. (VO2 Max = the maximum volume of oxygen an athlete can use)

Radcliffe was known to run, on average, a staggering 140 to 150 miles a week; running for hours on end in the morning and again in the afternoon.

A magnificent trainer, who pushed herself to the absolute limit, Radcliffe would refuse to simply step off the treadmill. Paula’s sport scientist, Andrew Jones said:

“When we are testing on the treadmill we ask people to tell us when they feel they have about a minute left to run,”

Jones continues….

“Paula would be clearly as exhausted as most athletes ever get but would signal she wanted to keep going. And this would keep going and going. She would rather have gone off the back of the treadmill than be stopped. She would push herself beyond what seemed possible.”

………..

Radcliffe would peak at the 2003 London Marathon, that day would be her golden moment in time.

Had things gone differently at the summer Olympic Games in Athens the following year Radcliffe believes herself that she would have broke her record.

Athens proved to be a difficult time for the British athlete. Prior to the competition Radcliffe was seen as the favourite to win gold in the women’s marathon. Three weeks before the competition Radcliffe was in the best form of her life. Coach and husband Gary Lough said:

“Three weeks before Athens she ran a tempo run of 24.4 miles in 2hr 15min at altitude,”

Lough continued…

“That was better than a similar run she had done before London. We knew she was in 2:13.45 to 2:14.10 form. She was in unbelievable shape, the peak of her career. That was when the rose had fully blossomed – and then she got injured.”

A freak accident would prevent Radcliffe competing to her full potential at the event in 2004. While out for a jog, a stone hit by a passing car fired into the knee of the athlete which caused a ‘clot and abscess’, and for two weeks Radcliffe was out of action.

Pumped with anti-inflammatorys her body was unable to metabolise food, leading to dehydration and white coloured bowel movements. Despite this, Radcliffe ran on but had to stop 22 miles into the race.

The British press branded Radcliffe a failure and a choker, unaware of her injury. Still most of this flack has continued to this day.

………..

Tomorrow morning on her return to the London Marathon, Radcliffe aims not to break her record but to run the race in under 3 hours, and to do so would be a huge send off and thank you to the fans and to the sport that she loves.

As an 11 year old girl visiting the marathon, a young Radcliffe was mesmerised by the performance of Norwegian runner, Ingrid Kristiansen. Since becoming a huge sporting success Radcliffe has commented on the inspiration she experienced that day saying:
“It broke down any barriers I had in my head….I thought: why can’t I be in there running and being competitive too?”

Perhaps tomorrow, that kid in the crowd will also say “Why not me?”