Paula Radcliffe has today been named an official ambassador for the IAAF/Cardiff University World Half Marathon Championships, Cardiff 2016.
Distance running legend Radcliffe, a three-time winner of the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships, becomes the first-appointed ambassador of the event taking place on Easter Saturday 26 March 2016.
It is set to be the biggest half marathon ever to be held in Wales and the most significant athletics event hosted in the country since the 1958 British Empire and Commonwealth Games.
Radcliffe remains one of the world’s most recognisable athletes having retired from competitive running at this year’s London Marathon and still holds the women’s marathon world record time of 2:15:25, which she set at the London Marathon in 2003.
She won the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships three times in four years between 2000 and 2003, including the second time it was held in the UK in Bristol in 2001.
Illness forced her to pull out of the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships race the last time it came to the UK in Birmingham in 2009, but she cannot wait for the prestigious event to return to British soil in Cardiff in March next year.
Speaking at the Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games at London’s Olympic Stadium, where she was unveiled as an ambassador for the IAAF/Cardiff University World Half Marathon Championships, Paula said: “It is a race that is very close to my heart and I am sure Wales and Cardiff are going to do a great job of hosting it.
“Hopefully we will get a great turnout of spectators because a brilliant atmosphere will make such a big difference, especially to the athletes representing Great Britain.
“It is also a rare chance for people to run alongside 25,000 other runners and go through the same experience and all the emotions of elite athletes.
“The IAAF World Half Marathon Championships was my first major title and was a huge pick-me-up after the disappointment of not winning a medal at the Sydney Olympics. It could be a real springboard for our athletes ahead of the Rio Olympics and we have seen what excellent shape Mo Farah has been in this summer after doing a half marathon in the spring.
“Wining on home soil will give extra motivation to our athletes and it would be great to see a strong turnout for the British team.
“I’m really looking forward to it and can’t wait to be a part of such an important event.”
The prestigious IAAF World Athletics Series event will bring more than 300 of the world’s best athletes to Cardiff’s flat, fast and iconic course, as well as hosting a mass participation race for up to 25,000 amateur runners from around the world.
Entries for the mass participation race are selling well and are expected to sell out before registration closes at the start of 2016. Runners can sign up via www.cardiff2016.co.uk.
Speaking about the appointment Matt Newman CEO of the IAAF/Cardiff University World Half Marathon Championships Organising Committee said:
“Paula is loved by the running community all over the world and we are delighted to welcome her on board as an official ambassador for the IAAF/Cardiff University World Half Marathon Championships.
“She used the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships as a springboard for even greater success in her career and we would love to see Great Britain and Northern Ireland’s brightest athletes do the same in 2016.
“Cardiff 2016 is going to be a special event for Wales and the rest of the UK and we would urge anyone thinking of signing up to come and run in the footsteps of champions.”