Radcliffe was born in Northwich, Cheshire, and studied modern languages at Loughborough University. She also holds the world records for 10, 20 and 30km on roads. She twice won gold at the World Cross-Country championships (in 2001 and 2002), and in December 2003 became European Cross-Country champion for the second time, the only woman to have achieved this feat in the event's ten-year history. Forced out of the Paris World Athletics Championships because of injury in 2003, her greatest moment on the track has been European gold at 10,000m in 2002. She has proved herself an incredible runner at distances as low as 5000m, too, running 14:31.42, just three seconds behind the world record, to win gold at the 2002 Commonwealth Games. Radcliffe is not known for her sprint finish, and so to win a race must attack and leave her competitors behind, as was seen in the 10,000 metres at the 2000 Olympic Games, when despite leading for 24 laps out of 25, she finished fourth.