Paula Radcliffe crashed to a shock 5000 metres on the second day of the European Cup First League meeting in Leiria - but thankfully the Norwich Union GB side were already assured of victory despite the unexpected setback. Radcliffe winner of the 3000m the previous afternoon was expected to score another easy victory, but the pre-race favourite was upstaged by the unknown Belarusian Volha Krautsova.
Krautsova who lowered her personal best to 15minutes 10.14 seconds, to the astonishment of the 16,000 crowd, powered past the Commonwealth champion for the distance with five-and-laps remaining. Radcliffe whose time of 15 min 27.67 sec is almost a minute slower than her personal best quickly fell away forfeiting almost 20 metres to her rival in the next 400 metres. Although leading until the unknown winner shot past her, there was no decisiveness in her pace, and she confirmed afterwards she had felt sluggish.
Fortunately her defeat was immaterial as the side fighting to regain Super League status after relegation last summer, already held a massive lead ahead of nearest rivals Belarus. "I felt really flat," said Radcliffe who volunteered to double at the meeting when Jo Pavey pulled out of the shorter distance race through injury last Tuesday.
"It was a scary that I had no power in my legs," added the world marathon record holder. "Usually I could out there and just cruise round, but there was just nothing there." Now Radcliffe still undecided whether to compete over the marathon for which she is already chosen or 10,000 metres in August's World Championships, will fly to Munich for treatment tomorrow.
She revealed: "I had a blood test last week which showed I have a little virus. It's not an injury as such but I have a little niggle in my left hamstring. "It seems to be a lot worse on the track than when I'm on the roads," added the distressed star righting to pick herself up after the defeat. But she insisted: "There's no doubt about. If this hadn't been a team event I wouldn't have started either race this weekend. I was conscious I just had to keep going and get the points for the team. If I had of gone out hard and put my head down like I usually do, I could have caused some damage."