runs away with 2nd
World Cross gold, USA take silver and bronze
Sean Wallace-Jones for the IAAF
23 March 2002 – Dublin, Ireland – Great Britain’s defending champion
Paula Radcliffe became the first woman in ten years to successfully defend her long cross
title here this afternoon and she was followed across the line by two surprise contenders
as Americans Deena Drossin and Colleen De Reuck closed Ethiopia and Kenya out of the
individual medal tables.
Radcliffe started this race as a firm
favourite with the bookkeepers giving odds of 6-4 for her to win, but few would have
predicted that two Americans would follow her across the finish line. It is the first time
since 1993 that an East African has not been on the podium for this race.
Radcliffe started out strongly, moving
up into the leaders as the field approached the first bend, with Drossin already at the
head of the field at this point, a position that she was to maintain through much of the
At the end of the first lap of the 2
kilometre course, the leaders were tightly bunched with around a dozen in the pack, headed
by Drossin, and including another two of the favoured medal prospects, Ethiopia’s Merima
Denboba and Rose Cheruiyot from Kenya. Radcliffe was right in the centre of the pack at
this stage after leading for short distances as the lead changed during this first lap.
With a lap under their belts, the
leaders started to spread out a little, with Drosin still in the lead, inseparable from
Radcliffe and closely followed by Cheruiyot and Denboba, a couple of seconds behind they
were followed by Eyerusalem Kuma (ETH), Miwako Yamanaka and Colleen De Reuck (originally
from South Africa and who acquired American nationality just 15 months ago).
moved into the lead as the bell sounded for the last lap and started to gradually pull in
front of Drossin, with Yamanaka trailing by 14 seconds alongside De Reuck, Cheruiyot, Kuma
From then on it was a straight run
home for Radcliffe as she built up and maintained a lead of some 30 metres over Drossin,
finishing the race in 26:55 to Drossin’s second place time of 27:04..
With the first two places already
assured by halfway through the last lap, the battle for bronze was being fought 100 metres
back as De Reuck, Yamanaka and Kuma gradually pulled ahead of Denboba and a third
Ethiopian Leila Aman.
In the end it was De Reuck who found
the reserves necessary to pull ahead of Yamanaka and finish two seconds ahead of the
Japanese athlete, who was given fourth in a near photo finish with Eyerusalem Kuma, also
timed at 27:19.
It was the first time since Lynn
Jennings took the bronze medal in 1993 that an American woman had stood on the podium of
the World Cross Long Course race. Jennings was also the last woman to achieve a successful
title defence in the race, which she won in 1991 and 1992.
Drossin recognised Radcliffe’s
dominance after the race, saying: “I never expected to beat Paula as she is so strong and
she certainly made this difficult for me.”
Drossin, who today achieved by far her
best placing in the World Cross after placing twice twelth and once tenth in the past
three editions, went on to praise the course: “The course was beautiful, so well manicured
and it was not as hard as I imagined it would be,” sentiments echoed by her teammate and
bronze medallist De Reuck: “the course is just as I imagined green Ireland to be like!”
De Reuck also could not believe how
successful she had been: “My original goal was to be in the top 20 but to get a medal is
unbelievable. I think that we were really running as a team and I am delighted that we got
the silver team medals.”
But the unquestioned star of today was
Radcliffe who was ecstatic after the race: “I am very happy to have retained my title here
in Dublin. My husband is Irish and the crowd was absolutely fantastic.”
She confessed to feeling the pressure
coming into the race: “I was very confident, but that made it my race to lose.
“Towards the end of the race, in the
last half mile I wasn’t sure of how much of a lead I had as I was getting conflicting
messages from the crowd.
“I always wanted to win here, even if
my marathon debut in London has been my main focus for this season. I am glad that it
hasn’t cost me the chance to win this race. Now I have got through this OK I can really
focus on London.
“The wind was very strong but the
course suited my style perfectly. Thank you Ireland.”
And the last word from Deena Drossin:
“Paula’s marathon debut in London will be unbelievable, she never ceases to amaze me.”
Despite being out of the individual medals, the Kenyan
team won the team gold, with the USA taking silver and Ethiopia bronze.