Paula Radcliffe of Britain has won the women's marathon at the world athletics championships for the first time with a victory in Helsinki, Finland.

The world record holder ended years of near misses and wiped out the bad memory of her collapse at last year's Athens Olympics by winning the gold medal Sunday in a championship record time of two hours, 20 minutes and 57 seconds.

The 31-year-old completed the 42.2 kilometer course one minute and four seconds ahead of defending champion and silver medalist Catherine Ndereba of Kenya. Constantina Tomescu of Romania won the bronze medal, another minute and 18 seconds back.

Radcliffe said she had awakened feeling good and that the victory was "a relief" after her disappointment over her performance in the 10,000 meters.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.