Sonia inspires my bid for Olympic gold - Paula

Alan O'Keeffe

RUNNING legend Paula Radcliffe says Sonia O'Sullivan is her role model as she bids for Olympic glory this year.

Paula, whose world record for the marathon has remained unbroken since 2003, said O'Sullivan's running performances were "phenomenal" and helped to inspire her to success.

The English athlete, who is married to her Irish coach, Gary Loughman, told the Herald she is desperate to win a gold medal in the marathon at the London Olympics.

Radcliffe, now aged 38 and a mother-of-two, said Sonia set a "wonderful example" of continuing to perform at a high level after becoming the mother of a young family: "Sonia really showed the world how to continue competing at the top level... She is a role model for me."

Radcliffe is training for her fifth Olympics after qualifying for the London competition with a bronze medal at the Berlin Marathon in September.

Although she has never won an Olympic medal, her 2:15:25 world record at the London Marathon in 2003 has remained unmatched.

She conceded her challenge for a gold medal this summer was not as strong as in previous competitions but she insisted she has a real chance of victory -- as long as she "stays healthy and injury free".


And she paid tribute to her Northern Irish husband for his huge support throughout the years.

Being a "hands-on" dad to their children Isla (5) and Raphael (18 months), Gary has enabled her to commit to training in the knowledge the children were "100pc fine."

As a mum, she has become involved in the Pampers Little Athlete Campaign, which helps parents celebrate the playtime achievements of their own little ones.

Her own family and Gary's Irish family have ensured she and Gary can devote the time needed for her Olympic challenge.

The Pampers campaign highlights the fact that a baby can take as many steps in 24 hours as a marathon runner in a race. She believes children are naturally very active and should be encouraged to go outside to play.