Former World 5000m champion Sonia O'Sullivan put her Olympic disappointment behind her with a narrow victory over Derartu Tulu in the Flora Light 5km in London's Hyde Park which attracted a field of 22,000 runners today.
The Irish star, who was lapped in Athens after going down with a stomach problem, outkicked the former double Olympic 10,000m champion to win in 15:06 in scorching conditions.
Tulu, who took Olympic bronze in Athens, set the initial pace and held a 20m lead through the opening kilometre in 2:56 as O'Sullivan led the chasing group.
Through 2km in 6:00, O'Sullivan had worked her way back to the former World 10,000m champion - and they were to remain together until the finishing straight.
Brief Romanian challenge
Romania's Mihaela Botezan, the European Cup 5000m winner earlier this year, was also making in-roads on the pair and by 3km (9:04) had forced her way up to the leaders.
Her spell at the head of the field was to be brief as O'Sullivan began to force the pace. Tulu, a former winner of the London Marathon organised by the same team, appeared to be feeling the pace as she tucked in behind the leading pair but with such an impressive finishing kick the others knew they could not discount her.
Indeed, it was Botezan who was the first to drop off the pace shortly after 4km (12:10) and it then became a two-way battle to the finish as O'Sullivan dictated matters. Tulu continued to follow just a couple of strides behind and it remained that way coming into the short finishing straight.
O'Sullivan doesn't wait for the sprint
But rather than a close sprint for the line, O'Sullivan stretched away to win by two seconds. O'Sullivan's time may have been slower than her winning 14:56 of two years ago - the equal fifth fastest 5km of all-time - but she was delighted just to win again.
She said: "It was good to get back to winnings ways after my disappointment at the Olympics, and to beat someone of Derartu's calibre is always nice. I knew I was in good shape, because I wasn't injured or ill at the Olympics, I just had a stomach upset, but even so I wanted to get back into the swing of things as soon as possible after it.
"I felt I still had more there today, I wasn't running on empty, and it was a nice confidence boost ahead of the Great North Run."
Johnson recovering from injury
When O'Sullivan last won this race, her training partner Benita Johnson pushed her all the way but on this occasion the Aussie found herself back in fifth as she contines her return from injury.
Since winning the World Cross Country Championships in Brussels, Johnson has been troubled by a shin injury and has also been suffering with anaemia, but she vows to return to form in time to defend her World title in March.
Loroupe wins in Birmingham
While O'Sullivan was winning in London, another Flora Light 5km was taking place simultaneously in Birmingham with former world marathon record-holder Tegla Loroupe winning in 15:54.
She headed a field of 4500 to defeat former training partner Joyce Chepchumba with last year's winner Susan Partridge taking third.
1 Sonia O'Sullivan (IRL) 15:06
2 Derartu Tulu (ETH) 15:08
3 Mihaela Botezan (ROM) 15:24
4 Emilie Mondor (CAN) 15:28
5 Benita Johnson (AUS) 15:32
1 Tegla Loroupe (KEN) 15:54
2 Joyce Chepchumba (KEN) 16:00
3 Susan Partridge (GBR) 16:26