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Athletics - 31. March 2008.

Australia claim World Cross bronze

Weightman (20th), Rollison (26th) and Thompson (27th) gave close support to Johnson, who won the title in Brussels in 2004 and was first non-African this time in 11th place. Zatopek winner Belinda Vernon (41st) and steeplechaser Vicky Mitchell (54th) also produced solid runs but were outside the top four point scoring positions.

In cold, occasionally rainy and blustery conditions in Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park, Ethiopia produced its first ever sweep of the individual medals. Kenenisa Bekele (senior men), Tirunesh Dibaba (senior women), Ibrahim Jeilan (junior men) and Genzebe Dibaba (junior women) all claimed titles.

Kenya claimed the senior and junior men’s race with Ethiopian winning the senior and junior women’s titles.

Consistent running from all six of Australia’s senior women ensured a spot on the podium with Johnson refusing to accept that the team's medal success had been a surprise.

"All the girls have been running really well. We stacked really well and had a really good race," Johnson said before paying tribute to Australian coach and Irish legend Sonia O'Sullivan, who won both long and the now-discontinued short course races in Marrakech in 1998 and is now Australian team manager.

"Sonia's a fantastic inspiration for any team and most countries would give their eye teeth for that."

"I'm thrilled as I was only fifth in our trial - I've had a knee injury - now I can concentrate on my preparations for Beijing."

"In six weeks time I'd have been a contender to win," the 2004 champion told the IAAF after leading the Australian women to the team bronze with 84 points behind the all-powerful Ethiopians (18 points) and Kenyans (22). Australia just sneaked past the USA who finished with 87 points but were well clear of Morocco (100) and the first Europeans (Great Britain- 116).

Australia won a team bronze in the women’s short course event in Fukuoka, Japan in 2006, however it is Australia’s first medal in the traditional long course team’s event.

Emily Brichacek finished 21st in the junior women’s event and the team placed 7th

Australian Results

Senior Women – Team 3rd

Benita Johnson 11

Lisa Jane Weightman 20

Melissa Rollison 26

Anna Thompson 27

Melinda Vernon 41

Victoria Mitchell 54

Junior Women – Team 7th

Emily Brichacek 21

Elise Clayton 24

Tamara Carvolth 34

Alexis McKillop 54

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