Paula Radcliffe has been removed from the list of athletes who receive lottery funding. That in itself is not much of a surprise. After all, Radcliffe is now 38 years old and seems to be injury prone at present – years of marathon running are bound to take a toll on the body. What is more, UK Athletics has been working towards the cycling model that if an athlete doesn’t look like a gold medal contender, then they aren’t interested.
What is surprising to me, and maybe a lot of people is why Paula was still receiving national lottery funding. Surely the funding is meant for up and coming athletes; athletes that haven’t broken through and who can’t afford to enter or get to races through lack of money. Or to help an athlete with expenses like a travelling physio, to enable them to perform at their peak.
Yet Paula has to be pretty well off. The British runner won the New York marathon in 2004, 2007 and 2008, the prize for which is $200,000. Then there’s £164,000 for winning the London marathon, earnings from an imaginatively names autobiography “my story so far” and lucrative deals with sponsors like Nike and Cadbury’s.
So while the Daily Mail might tut-tut at how a nation’s favourite could be treated so shabbily, it is probably for the betterment of sport.