Marathon runner Radcliffe's brave effort over body and soul

Paula Radcliffe vowed this week to prolong her career until the London 2012 Games after her second tilt at the Olympic marathon title ended in a familiar combination of tears, pain and disappointment.

Four years after dropping out of the Athens race in distress less than 3km from the end, Radcliffe did reach the finish line in the Bird's Nest Stadium, but that feat offered little comfort to an athlete who usually races only to win.

Handicapped by a stress fracture to her left thigh that restricted her to just two weeks of serious preparation before the race, she finished 23rd, more than 17 minutes outside her own world record and almost six minutes behind the gold medalist, Constantin Tomescu, who at 38, is the same age Radcliffe will be when the Olympics arrive in London.