Yelling: Paula won't take risk
Liz Yelling believes Paula Radcliffe will not contest the Olympic marathon unless she can be certain of avoiding another one of her calamities.
Despite being the world record holder and a former world champion over the distance, Radcliffe has struggled badly in her two Olympic marathons so far.
She was a hot favourite for gold in Athens in 2004 but was unable to finish the race due to a combination of illness and injury, while her preparations were also hampered by injury four years later in Beijing, where she finished 23rd.
Radcliffe has suffered various other high-profile "failures" recently, describing her return to action after 18 months out in May last year as "a disaster", while being "at a loss" to explain clocking her slowest ever half-marathon time in Vienna last weekend.
And despite the urge to finish her career on a high at a home Olympics, Yelling believes her former training partner will not risk a similar performance in London if she is not fully fit.
Yelling, who is looking to secure the last place on the British team alongside Radcliffe and Mara Yamauchi in Sunday's Virgin London Marathon, said: "It's a drive to be on the start line with her again. It would be a nice way to finish both our careers in a way.
"I've trained with Paula since I was 10. I've been through all of her calamities.
"I knew she was not in great shape before Vienna but I don't think that's a reflection of what she's capable of. It was a badly-timed race for her, she'd been ill and on antibiotics.
"I think she still has a chance this summer. We can't forget she ran 2:23 in Berlin last September.
"She will know the week or month before London (if she is fit) and I don't think she will put herself in a position where it can turn out like her last two Olympics.
"If she doesn't think she can run to her potential I don't think she will put herself on the line. I think she wants to get herself there in one piece and with a trouble-free build up. Getting there not injured is the key this year."
Yelling has some unfinished Olympic business of her own to deal with, having finished 24th in Athens - the first Briton home - and 26th in Beijing.
The 37-year-old added: "Athens was only my second marathon and was a massive learning curve, but before Beijing I had my best year, I was racing well and was really well prepared and confident.
"I think I led for the first nine miles and then got tripped at 10 miles. I went down quite hard and did not realise at the time that I had cracked a rib, and when I stepped up the pace I was unable to breathe.
"Of course that inhibited my ability to run and I was really annoyed that I couldn't do as well as I wanted because I was on course to finish well in an Olympic marathon.
"There is something about it that drives you on and the Olympics is so special that it would be nice to prove what I am capable of in London."
To do so first Yelling has to qualify, with Jo Pavey currently in pole position for the last place available by virtue of her run of two hours 28 minutes 24 seconds in London last year.
That puts her third in the UK rankings over the last 12 months and is 63 seconds quicker than her closest selection rival Claire Hallissey, but while Pavey sits out Sunday's race to concentrate on preparing for the summer, Hallissey, Yelling and Louise Damen will all compete and try to beat Pavey's time ahead of Monday's team selection.
"I have been in Jo's position and it's very nerve-wracking," added Yelling, whose personal best of 2hrs 28mins 33secs was set in London in 2008.
"It's a calculated risk for Jo and hopefully we can make her very nervous."