Pasted from an old post:
RE: MARY KEITANY: can she take down Paula's Legendary 2:15:25 WR 5/10/2010 4:36PM - in reply to UnmatchableStrength
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Every now and then an Athlete comes along who raises the bar to a magical height such as Jesse Owens (LJ), Daniel Komen, Sotomayor, Burka, JJK, Michael Johnson, Bolt...and Paula Radcliff. We always assume because another athlete gets close or is on the right trajectory that the record will be broken. Although all records will eventually be broken, but not necessarily by an athlete 'on paper' who are expected to break it. Usually even the athlete who set record can't do it again.
I don’t want to suggest any incredible performance was luck, but records are set when all the stars align...everything is perfect, scheduling, conditioning, venue, incentives, pacing, whether, etc., etc., etc., etc. Obviously I am talking about off the charts records, not the incremental ones. If you think about the circumstances when the records were set, for example, when Wariner ran 43.5 a lot of people though the 400m record was a done deal, but when MJ ran 43.1 it was on a rock hard track, no wind, 82 degrees and it done when Mike was perfectly fit while maintaining an unmatched low percentage of body fat which you can only maintain for a short period of time without getting sick or injured. When Daniel Komen ran his 7:20 3k, he was in 3:29 1500m and 12:40 5k shape and he ran the record at a meet and in a race when there was nothing on the line but the 3k record. When Jesse Owens set the long jump record, when he ran down the runway he carried with him weight of thing we can only imagine, which far exceeded a medal. (Like I said, I don’t want to call it luck, but some many things have to be right, beyond the things you can control.) Perhaps one of the Ethiopian ladies have the talent if they take a shot ‘right now’ while they are at the top of their game, but like I said, capability isn't enough… the stars have to align. No disrespect to Coach Canova, but I am pretty certain MaryK will not come close to Paula’s record and we should not even be talking about it until she runs 2:18. And not to take anything away from MaryK, but I watched Tirunesh Dibaba run a 15k in 46:26, she hit the 10k mark 31:24 and basically cruised the rest of the way…keep in mind she was coming off of a long layoff from injury. Tirunesh will break the road 10k/15k/20k/25k and half marathon record whenever she feels like it.
Talent isn’t enough, Paula had two weird human quirks, the ability to handle an insane training load and live an insanely monastic lifestyle singularly dedicated to one pursuit. As important as sport is to an elite athlete, it is almost impossible to get an athlete to make running the absolute center of their universe. Paula had the talent of a servant, body of a mule and mind of a monk.
Just like Jesse Owens' long jump record which lasted for decades; perhaps the female to break Paula’s record isn’t even born yet.