payday for Edith Masai
Steven Downes for the IAAF
24 March 2002 – Dublin, Ireland - Kenya’s Edith Masai enjoyed the biggest pay-day of her brief running career on Sunday, when she collected $34,000 prize money after winning the women’s short-course race at the iaaf/sport Ireland World Cross-country Championships here on Sunday.
The event also rewarded the hosts’ efforts in staging the two-day event, when the Irish women’s team, led by seventh-placed Sonia O’Sullivan, won bronze medals.
Masai, a 34-year-old prison warder and mother, out-kicked Ethiopia’s Werknesh Kidane to finish the 4km event in 13min 30sec, six seconds clear of her rival.
The bronze medal went to early leader Isabella Ochichi, of Kenya (13:39).
Masai, the bronze medallist in Ostend a year ago, only took up running in 1999 to help support her small son after she had split from her husband.
But the biggest cheer of the weekend was reserved for another mother among the race’s front-runners.
Local heroine O’Sullivan, the double champion from 1998, finished in 13:55. The race came just 13 weeks after she had given birth to her second daughter.
O’Sullivan’s brave effort, and that of her team mate Anne Keenan-Buckley, who finished 10th after being roared on by the estimated 7,000 spectators packed in the grandstands of the racecourse, saw Ireland get team bronze medals by a single point, 85 to 86 from Russia.
Ethiopia took team gold and Kenya silver.
“I knew everybody in the crowd wanted Sonia to win,” Masai said, “but this championship has come too soon for her.
“If the championships were held one month later, I know Sonia would have got a medal, maybe even gold,” said Masai.
“The atmosphere was electric and one of the most enjoyable races of my life. I am delighted to improve on my bronze of last year.”
Kidane, too, enjoyed her Dublin experience. “Everytime I ran in front of the stand I got goose bumps because the noise was so loud,” said the silver medallist. “It inspired me to run faster.”