Radcliffe eyes return to glory at New York City Marathon

Nov 1, 2008 - 1:39 PM By Simon Lewis PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

NEW YORK (Ticker) -- Paula Radcliffe will look to get back in the winning groove Sunday as she bids for a third victory at the New York City Marathon.

The Brit goes into the race as defending champion, but is concluding a year marred by injury, which played a part in her 23rd-place finish at the Beijing Olympics.

It will be the 34-year-old's third appearance in New York, and each time she has raced here she has had something to prove.

In 2004, her victory in a dramatic finish over Susan Chepkemei came nine weeks after her failure to finish the Olympic marathon in Athens.

Last year's equally hard-fought win over Gete Wami marked her return to racing following the birth of her first child, Isla, 10 months earlier.

"I wanted to be able to come back and defend having had things work out the way I wanted to in Beijing, but that didn't happen," Radcliffe said. "Essentially it's just for me getting on and doing what I love doing, and if I'm prepared and ready to race and New York is at the right time, then I'm always going to want to be here."

She added that last year's victory - when she broke away from Ethiopia's Wami on the final incline in Central Park to the finish line - is still fresh in her mind.

"As far as moments in my career, I mean, it's definitely right up there," Radcliffe said. "It was really important to me, almost a dream of mine, to come to New York and to win the marathon.

"To come back and win it for the second time was very special and to have Isla and my family here with me, that made it extra special."

When asked to choose which New York victory was the more rewarding, Radcliffe found it tough to decide.

"I don't know," she said. "I think 2004 I came in off a very good base, but then I had had the injury problems and then I just needed to build back from that. That was really pleasing and satisfying probably because it was my first and because it was kind of re-establishing myself back after what happened in Athens.

"I think last year it was just really enjoyable just to get out there and just to be racing again. ... Probably more of a lift in enjoyment and just exhilaration to be back racing again."

Radcliffe faces a stacked field with long-time rivals Wami and Kenya's Olympic marathon silver medalist Catherine Ndereba in the mix.

Rising stars Rita Jeptoo of Kenya and Ethiopian Dire Tune - this year's Boston Marathon champion - along with debutantes Kara Goucher of the United States and New Zealand's Kim Smith are expected to challenge as well.

"(New York is) a city that's very special to me," Radcliffe said. "I've always loved coming here and racing over all the distances, and especially once I've started running the marathons here. ... November is just New York to me."

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