ATHLETICS: PAULA RADCLIFFE spent days rehearsing the final paces of the New York City Marathon so she could triumph in a sprint finish, she has revealed.
The 30-year-old athlete said she practised the closing metres of the race, in New York's Central Park, over and over again, so she knew exactly how to make the final push for glory.
In the event she surged ahead of her Kenyan-born rival Susan Chepkemei with just metres to go, making it the closest finish in the history of the prestigious race.
And with victory she put behind her the nightmare of Athens, where she pulled up in both the marathon and 10,000 metres.
Describing the closing moments of the race, Radcliffe said: "I was pretty confident that I could win in a sprint finish, so I was really just trying to gauge my finish.
"I had run the closing stages quite a few times over the last couple of days, so I knew when I got close to the hill there was about 100 metres to go," she said..
Radcliffe said the victory helped her move on from the "terrible time" during the Olympics..
"I have put it behind me and I've moved on from there and the victory here in New York was special in its own right regardless of what happened at the Olympics," she said..
Radcliffe, the world record holder, completed the 26.2 mile course in two hours 23 minutes and 10 seconds on Sunday, outside the course record of 2:22:31 and behind her own world record of 2:15:25. She ran neck and neck with Chepkemei, 29, right up until the final metres.
But it was not all plain sailing for the Bedford star.
She said she woke up the night before the race with a stomach ache as a result of eating a reheated spaghetti bolognese.
She feared it could ruin her race, and felt stomach pains after 22 miles.
But she knew she could beat Chepkemei if it came to a sprint finish, and held on.
* Radcliffe is considering going for the world 10,000 metres gold medal in Helsinki next summer.
Max Jones, UK Athletics' performance director, believes Radcliffe is eager to prove herself as a global track champion.
"She did win the European title in fabulous style but I know she is very eager to do it on the world stage," Jones said.
"It was a harrowing experience watching every stride of the race. It will have restored her confidence beating world class opposition and I think proves she is still the world's most dominant endurance athlete.
"Now is the time for her to go away and have a long rest before deciding what races and distances she intends tackling next year."