20 FEB 2000 General News

Lebed and Ichikawa win Chiba Cross Challenge


AFP

20 February 2000 – Chiba - 1998 European champion Sergey Lebed overcame steady rain, cold and strong winds to win the men's 12 kilometres at the Chiba International cross country race on Sunday.

The Ukrainian took the lead after the 5km mark and steadily outdistanced the rest of the field, clocking 35 minutes 38 seconds to beat Faustin Baha of Tanzania in 35:52 and James Wainaina of Kenya in 36:01.

Local hope Yoshiko Ichikawa became the first Japanese to win the women's 8km race in 26:53, beating Restituta Joseph of Tanzania into second in 26:57 and fellow Japanese Mizuki Noguchi third in 27:02.

"It's just an ordinary condition for a cross country race" said Lebed, who started under conditions with the temperature standing at 4.5 degrees Celsius (40.1 Fahrenheit) and wind of 6.7m per second.

"I’m all right. It didn't affect my race. I've been training very well, that why I won the race," added Lebed, the winner of the third round in Durham, Great Britain, last month.

Baha took an early lead on the first lap and he once took a seven-second lead after the 4km mark. But Lebed charged ahead and caught up with the Tanzanian and never looked back afterwards, holding on to a wide lead ahead of Baha.

Favourite Ari Ichihara of Japan, the 1999 World Championship marathon silver medallist, pulled out at the last moment with a left foot problem to leave the women's race wide open.

Ichikawa spurted in the last one kilometre to make a break away off a six-women front group including Joseph, Romania's Constantina Dita and Camelia Alina Gherasim and held on to a 20-metre victory.

"It was so windy that I kept running behind Dita for most of the race, but I never felt cold, because I've always practised even on cold days. My coach told me not to spurt too early, but I just couldn't wait," said Ichikawa.

See the results and cross challenge standings here

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