Interview: “Peace and Sport is a perfect fit for everything I believe in,” says Paula Radcliffe

Speaking to Monaco Life at last week’s Peace and Sport International Forum, former marathon record-holder Paula Radcliffe spoke about being “grateful” for her glistening career as well as the positive qualities of an elite sportsperson.

Having resided in Monaco since 2005, former marathon runner Paula Radcliffe continues to enjoy and indulge in a sport from which she retired in 2015. However, during her long and illustrious career, Radcliffe was moulded by a set of positive values inherent and exuded by sport in its most pure form. Through her work with Peace and Sport, she now seeks to share and democratise those values, as she explained to Monaco Life.

Having initially set the Womens’ Marathon Record in Chicago in 2002 (2:17:18), you then later went on to beat your time in London in 2003 (2:15:25). Those records then stood for 15 years. Are you proud of how long your records lasted? 

It’s not something you really think about when you’re setting them. When I set the first one, I knew I could improve on it. Then when I improved on it in London, I knew it would be harder again to improve on, but I thought I could still run quicker. Obviously it got to a point in my career where I realised I couldn’t run any quicker, then I wasn’t even running anywhere. When [my record] got beaten, it wasn’t like I could get back out there and earn the record back again. That was never going to happen. 

It was kind of surreal. When I broke it, it had stood for only a year. Catherine Ndereba had set it the year before, she broke it from [Naoko] Takahashi and she broke it from [Tegla] Loroupe, but before that, Ingrid Kristiansen had held it. One of the things that really inspired me to get into running was standing on the side of the road in London ’85 and watching Kristiansen set that record. I was inspired by everything about the London marathon that day: the atmosphere, the buzz, the vibe and the fact that there was this woman running amongst the men – because it was mixed at that point – and she was at the front, looking so strong. I remember thinking that one day, I’d love to run like that. To get her record was really special, even if it was no longer her record. She had held it for 13 years. I thought, wouldn’t it be nice to hold it for as long as she did, which I managed to do. Then the new shoes came in and I knew it was only a question of time. 

It becomes even more impressive when you consider how ephemeral records are nowadays…

In some areas, for example, Jonathan Edwards’ triple-jump record stands from 1995. There are ones that still stand. I do think Jonathan’s was because he was just technically so perfect on that day. Perhaps without the progression and intervention of shoe technology, maybe it would have stood longer. Progression is natural; the human body keeps improving. I think there are now, on a technical level, people who are better than [Brigid] Kosgei (2:14:04 set in October 2019), and if they put a race together, it could really go forward. But you never know with a marathon. I think Gadei, when you know she can run a 62 [minute] half, then she’s got to be able to get it down towards two [hours] 12 [minutes]. There are lots coming through, but being quick on the track doesn’t necessarily translate to being quick on the road. I do think that record will be broken again. 

How was that period around 2012 when your injuries became more persistent? Were you mentally preparing for your post-career? 

I wasn’t really, no. If I could still be running now, I would. I didn’t find it a sacrifice to go away and train. I just found it difficult to do all the work and then get injured so I couldn’t do the race. When your body keeps breaking down, there isn’t much you can do about it. Having ‘the shoes’ earlier might have helped give me a few more years, and it was cruel in the end that my foot basically gave up on me about a month before my last Olympics in London. It just never worked out for me for the Olympics, but then lots of other things worked out. I got that foot injury in ‘94 so I could not have had a career at all. I could look at it both ways. I choose to be grateful for what I did get. 

You now work with Peace and Sport. What made you choose to go in this direction? 

I think Peace and Sport is a perfect fit for everything I believe in. Along with trying to get kids more active and healthier through exercise and everything that sport can bring: knowing yourself better, getting more out of yourself, going on to achieving more in life, working as a team more, all of those things. Trying to make a difference through sport around the world is the best way to move forward. I just think there are so many things going on in the world at the moment that don’t work in the next generation’s favour at all. Trying to do what we can to get the world to wake up and show that there are things that matter and things that don’t matter. We need to focus on the former and get everyone moving in the right direction. It feels like people are making issues out of things that shouldn’t be issues and not looking at the real problems and trying to do something about them. 

We know that Peace and Sport isn’t going to make a huge difference overnight, but it can make a difference in places where perhaps the United Nations going in is too much. Bringing people together and helping people enjoy sport together is a great way to bring communities together. 

Sport opens people’s minds up. People that do sport are generally more open-minded, less discriminatory and more willing to listen. People say that to succeed in sport you have to be selfish, but most sportspeople are not selfish. 

Why would you say that sportspeople are more open-minded and why is there this disparity in the morality of the sportspeople themselves and the organisations that run the sports? 

It’s hard to get your head around. I think sportspeople are more open-minded because you have to accept things for what they are. You can control yourself, you can’t control other people. You can only be the best that you can be. That spills over into life as well. That comradery of seeing both sides of it: seeing the victory and also seeing the defeat and knowing that that isn’t life and death either. It gives you a perspective.

Working towards something also builds team spirit and you meet a lot of like-minded people. A lot of the governing bodies are actually run by former sportspeople and it’s like they change once they get the power. We know that power and money corrupt, but it’s sad. It’s not everyone. There are still good people in charge of sports organisations, but there should be more good people in charge. Maybe the success of the organisation becomes bigger than their values. 


Photo by Christian Petersen-Clausen

“A Safe Night Out”: Monaco launches anti-spiking campaign

A collaborative effort between Be Safe Monaco, Fight Aids Monaco and the Monegasque Red Cross has seen the release of the “Une Soirée en Toute Sécurité” campaign that hopes to educate and protect partygoers from drink-spiking over the Christmas and New Year period.

A safe night out, une soirée en toute sécurité, is something that everyone should be able to enjoy when out celebrating. Yet this basic right is often jeopardised by drink spiking: a sinister and often hard-to-detect danger that anyone, but particularly young women, can risk facing. It is an issue that becomes even more prevalent during the most popular holiday season of the year, when huge number of revellers take to bars and nightclubs to celebrate Christmas and New Year.

In a welcome move to raise awareness and help fight this problem, this year, the Monegasque organisations Be Safe, Fight Aids and the Red Cross have put together an anti-drink spiking campaign that will run for a whole month, from 2nd December to 2nd January 2023.

The celebratory launch of the campaign was held on Friday 2nd December at the MK in the Port of Monaco, with representatives from all three organisations in attendance.

This latest initiative comes as a measure to supplement and build upon Be Safe Monaco’s previous campaigns. Be Safe Monaco, created in 2017 by five young women including Camille Gottlieb, the daughter of Princess Stephanie of Monaco, is committed to fighting drink-driving and most notably developed a programme for a free shuttle-bus during the summer months that provided free transport to night-time partygoers.

“A Safe Night Out” offers a two-pronged approach to targeting drink spiking, providing participating establishments free-of-charge with two innovative products: the first is a reusable anti-intrusion cap that can be used to cover drinks and prevent spiking, and the second product is a testing kit that can be used to safely detect the two most common drink-spiking substances of ketamine and GHB.

“Go out, have fun, but stay in control of your evening!” says the Monaco branch of the Red Cross on its website.


Photo source: Monaco Communications Department

Christmas at the Hôtel Métropole

Monaco’s glamourous Hôtel Métropole has planned a series of Christmas events and offerings for December 2022, each designed to exemplify the opulence and elegance for which the hotel is best known.

Since its construction in 1886, the Hôtel Métropole in the central Monte-Carlo district of Monaco has been widely renowned as a luxurious and exclusive destination. Priding itself as being a “worldly and elegant hotel” while also “a refuge offering relaxation and intimacy”, this is the place to go for luxury and indulgence at any time of the year, but particularly at Christmas.

Upon entering the hotel lobby, the wonderful display of Christmas decorations immediately dazzles the senses. From the enormous fir tree in the lobby to the baubles and teddy bears scattered throughout, all in warm brown, gold, and caramel tones, the display exudes a joyous Christmas ambience that permeates every part of the five-star establishment.

Children who are guests at the hotel will have the chance to meet Father Christmas in the Lobby Bar on Saturday 24th December from 5pm to 7pm as well as take part in a Christmas craft workshop where they will come away with a handmade wreath garnished with beautiful decorations to take home. On New Year’s Eve, a second workshop to make a travel piggy bank will be held. Both the Christmas and New Year’s workshops, for children aged four to 12, include delicious snacks prepared by Patrick Mesiano, the hotel’s talented pastry chef.

From 3pm until 6pm every day, guests can enjoy a sumptuous afternoon tea at the Lobby Bar with a selection of sweet and savoury treats on offer. For an extra Christmas touch, why not pair it with the signature cocktail of the season, the Flaming Marshmallow. This divine combination of vodka mixed with strawberry, raspberry and marshmallow flavours comes topped with a flaming marshmallow for maximum effect. The Jazzy Evenings programme will conclude during the month of December, with the final shows performed by international singer and pianist Jany McPherson during the evenings of Wednesday 14th and Thursday 15th from 7pm until 11pm.

To round out the list of seasonal events, diners at the New Year’s Eve dinner will be transported to the Belle Epoque. A formal seven-course meal will consist of specially concocted themed courses inspired by French gastronomy while the cabaret-style entertainment promises magic, sensuality, feathers and sequins… An unforgettable celebration and welcoming of the New Year!

In addition to the onsite events, guests are also invited to visit the hotel spa for a collection of Christmas-inspired treatments as well as the chance to win a prize with the spa’s advent calendar. For those wanting a memorable party-time delicacy to accompany their festivities, an eye-catching Cazette yule log dessert, developed by Executive Chef Cristophe Cussac in partnership with Pastry Chef Patrick Mesiano, is available to order from 12th December 12th. The mouth-watering dessert hides “a treasure of sweetness” within crispy praline and sparkling orange peel.

For more information, please visit the hotel’s website.



Photo source: Hôtel Métropole/Facebook


No end to soaring food prices in 2023

The alarming rises in the price of food and basic household items – the like of which have not been seen in France for 40 years – have prompted the French government to commission a special report. The causes for the increases are clear, but the solution is not. 

“Since January 2021, inflationary pressures, particularly on food products, have reached levels not seen in 40 years,” reads the report that was recently published by the General Inspectorate of Finance (Inspection Générale des Finances or IGF), having been called upon to investigate and analyse the current situation in France by the country’s Ministry for Economy and Finance.  

Cause and effect

In the report, the ongoing war in Ukraine, the post-Covid recovery, livestock disease like avian flu, weather conditions such as the severe drought experienced in 2022, and economic factors including labour shortages are all put forwards as contributors to the problem, with the untenable rise in the cost of raw agricultural materials blamed as the greatest source of pressure on prices.  

“Neither agricultural producers nor the agri-food industry and its distributors have benefited from inflation,” notes the IGF report, following analysis of the gross margins of each link in the chain, from the raw materials to the products sold to consumers. 

It also acknowledges that France’s mass distribution networks have reduced gross margins for more than half of their products, thus absorbing costs that could have been even higher and even harder for the public to stomach. 

Steep price hikes in every aisle

By November 2022, year-on-year food price inflation had reached 12.2% according to INSEE, France’s National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies.

The organisation has also released data collected between September 2021 and September 2022 that indicates the annual rise for numerous common items: the price of cooking oils increased by 60%, frozen fruit by 40.6%, flour and other cereals by 21.8%, fresh vegetables by 17.7%, and rice by 12.2%. Meat, seafood and dairy products were similarly affected: butter prices rose by 17.4%, fresh fish by 16.5%, poultry by 15.8%, and eggs by 13%.  

French businessman Michel-Edouard Leclerc, the president of the E.Leclerc supermarket chain among other enterprises, has confirmed fears that these increases are going to continue by sharing on Twitter the price hikes he expects will hit consumers in 2023: preserved fruit up 20.55%, preserved vegetables up 17.74%, coffee up 10.53%, pet food up 41%, and poultry up 13%.  

The outlook for the New Year is bleak. The effects of ongoing production difficulties, such as supply problems and a shortfall in workers, and rising energy prices, which are expected to worsen next year, will be no doubt be heightened by increasingly high commodity costs. The price of wheat, for example, rose by 79% between January 2020 and July 2022.  

The overall annual inflation for France in 2022, most recently calculated by Eurostat in November, stands at 7.1%. This is lower than the greater Eurozone at 10.6% and the European Union at 11.5%. The French government, however, anticipates a further rise of 4% in 2023 ahead of a 2% in 2024. 


Photo source: Eduardo Soares for Unsplash