NEW YORK, Oct 28 (Reuters) Britain's marathon world record-holder Paula Radcliffe was named as recipient of the 2006 Abebe Bikila Award.
The award, presented annually by New York Road Runners since 1978, honours a person who has made an outstanding contribution to distance running.
''Paula is a champion in life,'' said NYRR president and New York City Marathon director Mary Wittenberg yesterday.
''From smashing records to ensuring that her athletics success benefits others through her philanthropy, Paula is someone who inspires and cares.'' Radcliffe has six wins in seven marathon starts and owns four of the five fastest women's times, including the world record of two hours 15 minutes 25 seconds, which she set at the 2003 London Marathon.
The 32-year-old has won in London three times and triumphed in Chicago and New York. Radcliffe also captured the gold medal in the marathon at the 2005 world championships in Helsinki.
''It is a great honour for me to receive such an award,'' she said in a statement.
''The name alone represents so much for distance running and it is a huge privilege to join the list of outstanding athletes and previous winners who have done so much for our sport.'' Previous winners include Lasse Viren, Grete Waitz, Alberto Salazar, Bill Rodgers, Tegla Loroupe and Stefano Baldini. Last year's honouree was 2004 women's Olympic marathon champion, Mizuki Noguchi of Japan.
Bikila of Ethiopia is the only runner to win two Olympic marathons, taking gold in Rome, running barefoot in 1960, and in Tokyo four years later.
Five years after his second Olympic gold, Bikila was paralysed from the waist down by a car accident. He died in 1973.
REUTERS PM VV0900