General News 29 March 2003 – Lausanne

Kidane completes Ethiopian first day triumph - women's long course race in Lausanne

Werknesh Kidane raises her hands in triumph as she wins the women's long course (Getty Images)Werknesh Kidane raises her hands in triumph as she wins the women's long course (Getty Images) © Copyright

LausanneWerknesh Kidane of Ethiopia took the senior women’s long course 8km title at the 31st IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Lausanne-La Broye when she out-sprinted long-time leader Deena Drossin of the United States.

Drossin led almost from the start but had to be content with the same position she occupied last year when beaten by Britain’s Paula Radcliffe in Dublin.

Kidane, the 1999 World junior cross country champion, cruised along in Drossin’s slipstream for much of the race before sprinting clear with about 300m to go.

The 21-year-old crossed the line to claim her first senior title in a time of 25:53, with the plucky Drossin clocking 26:02.

In third, Kidane’s team-mate Merima Denboba ran 26:28, with another Ethiopian, Eyerusalem Kuma, a further two seconds back in fourth.

In fifth, Magdeline Chemjor was first Kenyan runner home in this third race on day one of the two-day championships. Chemjor ran 26:33, with team-mate Pamela Chepchumba sixth with 26:35, another Kenyan Elizabeth Rumokol seventh with 26:37 and Drossin’s team-mate Colleen De Reuck eighth in 26:49.

Not surprisingly, Ethiopia won the team title from Kenya and the United States.

Hayley Yelling of Great Britain had led the early stages, but Drossin soon hit the front and began the split up the field with a relentless ‘Radcliffesque display’ of aggressive front running on this rolling, rutted course at Switzerland’s national equestrian centre.

The 30-year-old American had said before the race: "I’m going to be aggressive right from the start, that’s the way I race best." And she meant it, too, forging ahead, surging hard into small inclines that punctuated the circuit.

A 2:26:53 marathon runner, Drossin played to her strength by trying to run the sting out of the finish of her rivals. Initially, Asmae Leghzaoui of Morocco and Denboba tried to go with her, but soon Drossin had only Kidane for company. Unable to shake her off, eventually Drossin had to concede to the Ethiopian¹s blistering finishing sprint.

It was not entirely unexpected, as Kidane has a great pedigree as a track runner. She placed seventh in the Sydney Olympic 5000m final aged 18 and has run 8:41.58 for 3000m and 14:43.53 for 5000m.

At the 2001 IAAF World Cross Country Championships she had placed fifth in the short-course (4km) race and took silver over the same distance in 2002.

This winter her pre-race form included victories in Belfast, Haro and at the Ethiopian championships. Although her preparation was far from perfect, with defeats in Newcastle and Seville.

Jason Henderson (Athletics Weekly) for the IAAF