Athens From The Crowd - Part 1: Paula

RW's former production assistant Cath Perry is a self-confessed athletics nut. She'll be offering up an unofficial crowd's eye view on the forum though the week. Here's her first instalment - Monday 23rd, the day after the women's marathon...

"She's pulled up"

"No. You are joking, right?"

"No, she's pulled out. Stopped."

One look to my right and I see Paula Radcliffe's husband also walking out of the Panathinaiko Stadium. Face like thunder. The guy was not joking. I feel sick. It's so sad.

There are 15 minutes to go till the winners get to the finish. We have sped to the Panathinaiko Stadium from our marathon route spot, where there had been a great party atmosphere of British and Japanese supporters. All tense, nervous, excited. Sure of victory.

The Panathinaiko Stadium looks incredible. It's packed with supporters, Union Flags everywhere. But the atmosphere is subdued. The crowd have just seen the image of Paula stop, try running again and then give up, collapsed on the pavement - crying and just awfully alone. Banners with 'another Perfect Paula run' suddenly seem a little over-confident.

Was it too hot? I guess so. It was mid 30s when they started the race in this unrelenting sun. Spectating was exhausting enough. We have become so used to , but she is just human.

The Japanese were happy, though, and they are a fun crowd. It was still a fabulous sight to see the front runners come into the stadium, all pretty close as it turned out.

I couldn't stay for Tracy and Liz to come in, as I had to dash to the new athletics stadium - my first time there. I was hot, disappointed, hungry, thirsty. However, the atmosphere was wild and electric. My mood lifted instantly.

Though Britain had no-one in the 100m final, and Philips Idowu didn't appear to be jumping in the triple jump (clearly not a great day for British athletics), this was the world stage and every race was kicked off with enormous cheers, music pumping out, people dancing, clapping.

I was ecstatic to see the ladies' 400m heats (my event, in another world). Determined to have a British reason to cheer I pushed the 400m ladies on with all my might (to no avail unfortunately) but was delighted to see Michael East qualify.

It was overwhelmingly a Swedish night with wins in the high jump and triple jump. The 100m final proved to be exciting too. The Greeks got the atmosphere up pre-race with Greek dancing music - it even got the more relaxed 100m runners dancing along with the crowd. I walked out of the stadium next to Mark Lewis-Francis and Jason Gardener, who must have been galled not to be in the race. Indeed they looked it.

So after last night's spectacles I couldn't resist more tonight [Monday]... the women's 800m amongst others. I have bought a ticket for 70 Euros just this morning. My beach volleyball ticket will just have to be ditched, unfortunately. It's all about lapping up as much as possible out here, seeing as much sport as you can, getting involved, and having a good time. Pay now and worry about the bills later!