City runner Freya Murray steps in for injured Paula Radcliffe for Olympic marathon

SHE was planning to be one of the spectators in the crowd, cheering on the athletes taking part in the London Olympic marathon.

But now Capital distance runner Freya Murray will no longer have to worry about getting a good vantage point, after being drafted in as a late replacement for injured world record holder Paula Radcliffe.

The Edinburgh AC athlete said: “I was booked on flights to America next Sunday – the day of the Olympic marathon. My plans were to be in London at the weekend and attend the athletics in the stadium on Friday evening and then be at the marathon on Sunday as a spectator. I was due to fly to the United States overnight on the Sunday and head to Colorado for altitude training.

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“I’ve never been so happy to cancel and alter travel arrangements and while I will be at the Olympic marathon now I won’t be standing on the sidelines cheering people on.”

Paula Radcliffe had already told the six-time Scottish Cross Country champion, originally from Temple, that she should ready herself to take-up an 11th-hour marathon place at the Games. And that substitute role has now been confirmed by UK Athletics and the British Olympic Association.

The structural engineer, who now lives near Newcastle, said: “You never know what can happen in sport, but of course I feel for Paula. It is just one of those things that the only way I was to compete at these Olympics was if something like this was to happen to another athlete.

“It was a weird situation. I didn’t want to wish anyone ill or get my hopes up too much yet I could not also write it off and felt I had to train for a marathon. London in April was so bittersweet in that respect.”

The 29-year-old ran inside the A qualifying standard at the London Marathon when she finished second Brit behind Claire Hallisey, who claimed the automatic place instead.

She added: “It was my first run at the distance and I enjoyed it so much. It felt so right that I’ve basically become a marathon runner in my own head now.”

News of the former Lasswade AC athlete’s inclusion was celebrated by proud parents, Eileen and John Murray.

Eileen said: “We are very proud of Freya. We had tickets for the 10k race on the Friday but we’ll now be looking to source some tickets for the marathon, too.

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“Freya began running at the age of eight with the local athletic club and we used to bring her to various meets and events. It’s amazing to think of where she has ended up but then she has always been a very determined character.”

Dad John was equally proud and paid testament to her early coaching. He said: “We are both so proud. Her coach back in the Lasswade AC days was David Hand who is still greatly involved in running the club.

“He and the other volunteer coaches take training on Monday and Thursday evenings unless it happens to be Hogmanay or Christmas Day. He deserves a medal.”

David looks to top off rapid rise with win

OLYMPIC silver medallist David Florence is hoping to go one better and clinch gold in today’s C1 slalom final.

The 29-year-old, who won silver in the same discipline in Beijing four years ago, had to pull out an impressive second run to qualify for the final in fifth place.

David, who is a long-time member of Firth Canoe Club said: “I’m sure that all my family and friends were a little bit worried. I was certainly under pressure after a not very good first run.

“But I’ve been in situations before where I’ve needed a good second one. This is a special atmosphere, I’ve not been in anything like it before and I’ve never gone last as world no.1 before. I have never heard noise like that, it was amazing, and I knew I had to just focus on it gate by gate.

Commodore Kelso Riddell, of Forth Canoe Club, said: “If David paddles as well as we know that he can then I’m sure he’ll be on the podium.”