Written by Harry Porter

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Topics: Britain, France

Monday, 30 August 2004

The UK's Olympic team bounced back into Britain from Athens to be greeted by crowds of adoring fans. Sadly, missing from the arrival of sporting heroes was long distance runner Paula Radcliffe whose plane only made it as far as France.

It was the culmination of a depressing day for England's marathon and 10,000m hopeful, only reaching the bus terminal while her teammates arrived at the airport. Then she only made it to check-in while the rest of the squad left the departure lounge.

"I was up for the flight," said a tearful Paula. "I had my passport ready and my boarding card but, when I reached the check-in, the airline staff announced they couldn't go on and stopped work for an ouzo break.

"They really distracted me and spoilt my rhythm. I'm not making excuses; it was the same for everyone but I just couldn't go on."

Determined to catch up with the UK team, a sobbing Paula booked on to the next available flight that should have got her into London only minutes behind her fellow Olympic villagers.

Unfortunately, she was forced to stop halfway up the boarding steps.

"I felt good starting to climb the stairs," she wept, "but this child squeezed past me to catch up with his parents and it really put me off. I had to stop where I was. People were very kind and helped me on to the plane.

"I'm not making excuses; it was the same for everyone but I just couldn't go on."

Flight 202, bound from Athens for London, made good time, crossing the Alps and heading for the Channel.

But suddenly, at 30,000 feet, all the plane's engines stalled and pilot was forced to make an emergency landing at Charles de Gaulle airport, Paris.

"I don't know what happened," said Flt. Lt. Brian ‘Biggles' Smartson. "Everything seemed to be going fine. We had a clear sky, the weather was perfect, but the plane just didn't seem to be able to go any further and we had to come down in France.

"It was a bitter disappointment for all the passengers.

I'm not making excuses; it was the same for everyone but the plane just couldn't go on."

Paula then decided to finish her journey back home by train and was booked on Eurostar back to London. Paula started well as she headed along the platform for the carriage but was forced to stop only yards from boarding.

"There were lot of people trying to get on the train," she said through reddened eyes. "People were overtaking me all along the platform.

"I'm not making excuses; it was the same for everyone but I just couldn't go on."

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The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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