Coach: Conrad Milton
World Record First
Paula and Ann Yeoman made quite an impression in long and distinguished careers on the track, road and cross-country. Though Paula did not attend the Olympic Games, she earned a landmark of being the first woman to be recognised by the IAAF as a holder of the 5000m world record, thus earning her a place in the modern history of the sport in Britain. But Championship wise, her best year was 1978 - and she had good company on the podium.
Keeping It In The Family
In 1977, Paula had a 3000m best of 9:16.02, but she lowered the time with a succession of fine runs. First, she improved it to 9:14.6 and 9:07.26 before winning the UK title in 8:53.63.
The Commonwealth Games brought great delight for her family. Even though the 3000m final was a slowly run race, she won gold in 9:12.95, and behind Heather Thomson, of New Zealand, in 9:20.69, came Paula’s sister Ann in 9:24.05.
It was a much quicker event at the European Championships in Prague which saw another superb time from Paula, even though she finished eighth in a race won by Svetlana Ulmasova. The Russian triumphed in 8:33.16, but Paula took 3.59 secs off the UK record with 8:48.74.
Making Her Mark
Paula remained in the top four in Britain at 3000m between 1978 and 1982 and it was in 1981 where she made her major mark internationally when, on September 13, in Knarvik, Norway, she broke the 5000m world record.
Gaining ratification by the international governing body gave the distance even more credence and she is still 11th on the UK all-time list.
But the run made her only the third British woman in over 30 years to break a track world record outdoors. The other two have been Zola Budd, who ran 14:48.07 for this distance in 1985, and Sally Gunnell, who broke the 400m hurdles best when she won the world title in 1993.
Running As A Mum
Paula’s daughters were born 1984 and 1989 and by then she was concentrating on road running - and proving equally effective.
She won on her marathon debut at Columbus, Ohio, in 1985, and then in London, she was fifth in 1986 and fourth in 1987. She declined selection for the 1988 Olympic marathon, but was then third in Chicago in a personal best of 2:29:47 and she had seven top 10 finishes in the National cross-country 1977-85.
1978: 1st 3000m Commonwealth Games, 8th 3000m Europeans
1979: 7th 3000m European Cup
1981: 3rd 3000m European Cup
1982: 3rd 3000m European Indoors
1987: 17th Marathon Worlds
World 15km road race: 1985- 5, 1986- 20, 1987- 8
World Cross-country: 1979- 17, 1981- 28, 1982- 14, 1985- 56.
UK Internationals: 25 (1974-87)
Won UK 3000m 1978 and 1982, WAAA 5000m 1983, National CC 1982 (2nd 1981, 3rd 1985), National 10M 1982, 1986-7.
800m 2:08.5 (1975), 1000m 2:40.98 (1978), 1500m 4:11.23 (1981), 1M 4:33.42 (1982), 3000m 8:48.74 (1978), 5000m 15:14.51 (1981); road: 10km 32:44 (1988), 10M 53:44 (1985), Half Mar 1:11:36 (1988), Mar 2:29:47 (1988).