New Delhi: British long-distance runner Paula Radcliffe, who holds the women's marathon world record for the last 11 years, on Friday said competition should be held in the right spirit and urged athletes to be honest and not resort to shortcuts like doping.
"If you try to dope, then it is just resorting to a shortcut. This is not right. I have always taken a stand against doping as I believe sports should be played in the right spirit. That's what makes it special," Radcliffe said on the sidelines of a programme related to Sunday's Airtel Delhi Half Marathon, of which she is the event ambassador.
"As a professional athlete you should always keep a tab. Keep a database on what you eat, what medicines you take, the supplements you take and other aspects. People look up to you, and you should try to be honest," added the 40-year-old, who returned to racing with a third place finish in Worcester 10k in September, after a gap of two year.
Radcliffe, who is here for the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon on Sunday, spoke at length about her long career, injuries and the disappointment of losing out of an Olympic medal.
A three-time winner of the London Marathon (2002, 2003, 2005), three-time New York Marathon champion (2004, 2007, 2008), and winner of the 2002 Chicago Marathon, Radcliffe represented Great Britain at Olympics four times, but could not win a medal.
"As sportsperson we have to cope with ups and downs. For me, Athens Olympics was my low point. I was in great shape but because of the leg injury and the stress around it, everything contributed to me not able to finish the race. I knew it was my best chance," said Radcliffe.
"However, London Olympics was most painful. It was my home Olympics and I was looking forward to it ever since we won the bid in 2005. It was my last chance and it was very hard to come to terms with the disappointment."
A former world champion in the marathon, half marathon and cross country, Radcliffe feels athletes training in high altitude has an advantage. "Altitude training is a factor and we have seen lots of Kenyans doing well but I believe all athletes can work hard and compete. Motivation is very important and it can be vary from country to country. I think Europeans can still compete but they need to train at high altitude," she said.
"Culture of a country is also a factor. We need to make out sport more attractive to the youth. Running is the most natural sports and it boosts self confidence." Talking about her world record which she set with a timing of 2:15:25 at 2003 London Marathon, Radcliffe said: "All records can be smashed and I am surprised that my record still holds but I know that I had worked hard for it. I don't think it is about talent. My coach once told me, I am not the most talented but the most talended while working hard."
Asked about her opinion regarding running a half marathon in sub two hours, Radcliff said: "It is not going to happen before 20-25 years. Even to run sub 60 in a half marathon is a great feat and to go down below two hours will be phenomenol."
On the track, Radcliffe won the 10,000 metres silver medal at the 1999 World Championships and was the 2002 Commonwealth champion at 5000 metres. On Sunday, while Radcliffe will don her role of an event ambassador, it will the Kenyan trio of Florence Kiplagat, Gladys Cherono and Lucy Kabuu who would try to compete and grab the title in the women's race.
Defending champion Florence Kiplagat of Kenya admitted she is not in the best shape but hoped to give her best. "In Chicago I competed and finished 3rd. I m not in good shape but I won last year here so yes, I will give my best. Last year. I was late coming to Delhi but this time I have two days to recover. Hope it is not too cold or hold on Sunday. I want to run 69 minutes on Sunday, said Kiplagat, who had won last year with a timing of 68 minutes.
Reigning world half marathon champion, Gladys Cherono, who finished second here last year, said: " Hope everything goes well for me. I will try my best but weather is a factor. The course is a good one here."
Asked about her aspirations, 2011 winner, Lucy Kabuu said: "Compared to last year, I am better shape now. In 2013, I didnt perform well in road races. I ran 68.10 last year here but this Sunday, I want it to be my best performance.
"I am training for Dubai and Tokyo next. I have not decided. Lets see."