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Athletics - 31. March 2008.

Dibaba takes top honours

 

For results from Sunday's races visit the IAAF Website

 

Tirunesh Dibaba  made an impressive world class comeback as she won the senior title, in a day where all four seasons were demonstrated in the two hours of world class endurance racing.

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Beginning in driving rainstorms and ending under blue skies, the 36th IAAF World Cross Country Championships saw some truly world class athletes braving the mud and hills of Holyrood Park.

 

Thousands of athletics fans lined the course of one the most picturesque cross country settings on the planet to witness some breathtaking action.

Tirunesh Dibaba made an impressive world class comeback as she won the senior title, in a day where all four seasons were demonstrated in the two hours of world class endurance racing.

 

 

Great Britain's Liz Yelling’s 15th place in the senior women’s race was another highlight in a strong day for the Norwich Union Great Britain team.

Junior Women (6km)

 

Ethiopia kicked of the day’s proceedings with an impressive win for Genzebe Dibaba – younger sister of Tirunesh Dibaba after an edgy race in the cold, wet and windy conditions.

 

In what could only be described as a slow start with the entire field bunched for the first third of the race, it soon burst into life when the Kenyan girls took to the front in group formation shortly before halfway. Despite a close battle between Dibaba and Kenya’s Irene Cheptai on the final descent from Haggis Knowe, Dibaba sprinted away, a true champion - emulating her older sisters achievements in the same event.

 

Of the British contingent Charlotte Purdue (Aldershot, Farnham & District) put in a plucky performance to return from injury and finish 16th, just ahead of an impressive World Cross Country debut by Laura Park (Ellenborough AC) in 17th.

 

Purdue said: “I am really pleased with that run and it feels good. I am coming back from injury so that run was great. The first lap was really slow and everyone was very bunched together and it was difficult to deal with.”

 

Park added: “I felt really strong, I couldn’t compete with the Africans but just tried to hang on. The support was fantastic on the course and I really enjoyed the experience.”

 

Emma Pallant (Aldershot, Farnham & District), who challenged in the lead group in the early stages, was third GB finisher in 27th.

 

Results: 1 Genzebe Dibaba ETH; 2 Irene Cheptai KEN; 3 Emembt Bacha (ETH); … 16 Purdue; 17 Park; 27 Pallant; 35 Jo Harvey (Exeter); 41 Emily Pidgeon (Gloucester AC); 43 Lily Partridge (Aldershot, Farnham & District).

 

Senior Women (8km)

 

Tirunesh Dibaba shrugged off fitness doubts and came back from a mid race deficit of 20 metres to take the women’s title in a thrilling race.

Gelete Burka had looked the most likely recipient of the gold as she made a strong effort to escape her rivals two thirds of the way through the race, but perhaps putting too much effort in too soon, faded and allowed team mates Mestawet Tufa, and Dibaba to get back to her as well as young Kenyan Linet Masai.

Up the final approach to Haggis Knowe, Dibaba was third of the 4 runners, but in a show of speed reminiscent of her track 10,000m pace, she stretched away over the summit and sprinted into the finish to take the third Ethiopian title of the afternoon, with Tufa and Masai taking the remaining medals.

 

Liz Yelling (Bedford & County AC), made the early running amongst the British team, and thrilled the crowd by leading the field for the first third of the race. Her strong attempt to mix it with the African dominance rewarded her with a fantastic 15th place to give her oodles of confidence heading towards the Flora London Marathon.

 

She said: “I knew it would be tough this year, combining this race and the marathon. I felt really comfortable, so just wanted to get up there and give it a go. I know I’m in the best shape I have ever been in. The support was awesome, every step of the race someone was shouting out your name.”

 

Sister in law Hayley Yelling (Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow), who alongside Liz had been part of the early lead, also had an impressive return from recent illness which saw her miss the English National and the Inter- Counties.

Results: 1 Tirunesh Dibaba (ETH); 2 Mestawet Tufa (ETH); 3 Linet Masai (KEN); … 15 L Yelling; 21 H Yelling; 38 Laura Kenney (Royal Sutton Coldfield AC); 42 Rachel Townend (Winchester & District); 45 Faye Fullerton (Havering Mayesbrook AC); 53 Jo Wilkinson (Bedford & County AC).

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