With just over two months until the 31st IAAF World Cross Country Championships are held in Lausanne-La-Broye on the weekend of 29 – 30 March 2003, two of the world’s premier distance runners, Ireland’s Sonia O’Sullivan and Ukraine’s Sergiy Lebid have confirmed their participation.
O’Sullivan the Olympic 5000m silver medallist, became the first and so far only woman to win both the long and short course races at the World Cross Country Championships, when competing in Marrakech in 1998.
At last year’s championships in Dublin, she returned to competition after having given birth to her second child at the end of 2001. What a remarkable return it was too, guiding as it did Ireland to a unexpected team bronze medal in the 4.27km short race on home mud!
Last summer brought further success for O’Sullivan, when in a bold defence of the European Championships 5000m and 10,000m track double which she had taken in 1998, she came away from Munich with two gallantly won silver medals.
Ukraine’s Sergiy Lebid is the current European Cross Country Champion, having single handed won three golds, a silver and a bronze medals since those continental championships began in 1994.
Lebid is currently, the top name in European distance running having already taken cross country wins on the circuit this year in Belfast, Campaccio and Vallagarina.
Based in Italy, but returning to the Caucasian mountains for intensive training which will further refine his already devastating finishing kick, Lebid will be aiming in Lausanne to improve on the silver medal he took in the long race at the 2001 World Cross Country Championships in Ostend.