Adere bides her time and takes
women's title in sprint finish
5 May 2002 – Brussels, Belgium – Defying the weather and a collision with an attention seeking spectator who had run out in front of the leaders, 28 year old Berhane Adere won the final sprint to take gold at the 11th IAAF World Half Marathon Championships here this morning. It was the first time that an Ethiopian woman had won gold in the Championships.
Susan Chepkemei was unable to withstand the Ethiopian’s finishing kick and followed her across the line for her third successive second place in the World Half Marathon Championships, after two defeats at the hands of Great Britain’s Paula Radcliffe who was not competing here in Brussels.
Adere said afterwards: “Of course I was frightened when the man jumped out in front of me. It was dangerous and I thought that I might fall.” Despite having to shoulder the man aside before he was stopped by officials, Adere continued to pull away from Chepkemei to take the tape.
The race had started out strongly despite the bitterly cold conditions. With just seven degrees, rain and winds buffeting the runners as they followed this tough course through the historical centre of Brussels, it was not until the later stages of the race that the leading pack broke down from the thirty or so runners who had moved into the front from the very earliest stages of the race.
An early casualty in the race was local favourite Marleen Renders who jumped to avoid a falling camera after two motorcycles carrying camera crews collided and banged her head on a post. She nonetheless managed to finish the race and stayed among the leaders for much of the time but found that her concentration was going and was unable to maintain her place in the front to the end. Despite this she still managed to finish in the top ten with a credible 8th place.
Three-time Champion Tegla Loroupe who suffered a recurrence of the back problems that have plagued her performances over the last three years and dropped out of the leaders shortly after the first five kilometres and eventually finished the race in 43rd place. According to her coach and manager Volker Wagner, Loroupe has a loose bone in her spine that is pressing on a nerve and sporadically gives her considerable pain. She is to undergo examinations to see whether it will be possible to operate.
Despite making much of the running throughout the race, Japan’s Mizuki Noguchi was unable to sustain her pace to the end and gradually started to fall back in the leading pack after the 15-kilometre mark. Sonia O’Sullivan, who had run alongside Noguchi in the early stages and looked strong until around the halfway point, had already dropped back into the vanguard of the leaders and finally crossed the line in 14th position.
Towards the end of the race, the pack had thinned down to seven athletes and it looked very much like the contest of East Africa versus Eastern Europe, with Jelena Prokpcuka from Latvia, Olivera Jevtic from Yugoslavia and Mihaela Botezan from Romania up in front running alongside Adere, Chepkemei, Pamela Chepchumba (Ken) and Lenah Cheruiyot, but in the end the Africans won the day, with Prokopcuka taking bronze ahead of Botezan in fourth place, Chepchumba in fifth and Jevtic in 6th position.
Prokopcuka said afterwards: “this is my first medal and is a very important one for Latvia. It is a great result for me, my family and my friends and will be a great thing for athletics in my country.
“At five kilometres from the end I was sure that I would be on the podium.
“I only started serious roadrunning recently after a career on the track and I must say that it is a lot more fun than running around in circles.”
Chepkemei said after the race that she was a little disappointed with her position. “I was OK with my performance, but obviously I would have liked to have won.
“I wanted to pull away from the leaders but it was not possible. I decided to wait until nearer the finish to try again, but couldn’t do it. The weather was bad, but then it is the same for everyone in the race so that does not make any difference.”
With three athletes in the top ten, Kenya won the team competition, ahead of Russia and Ethiopia. See the results section for full results and intermediate positions.