25 MAR 2001 General News

Wami wins third cross country title


Steven Downes for IAAF

25 March 2001 - Gete Wami showed that she had learned her lessons well from defeat of the previous day when she sprinted past Paula Radcliffe in the final 100 metres to win the IAAF women's short-course cross-country here in Ostend on Sunday.

For the 26-year-old Ethiopian, it was her third World Cross-country gold medal, adding to her long-course victories in 1996 and 1999.

"Winning today made up for my disappointment yesterday," Wami said. "Yesterday, I made a mistake because I started my finishing sprint too early. This time, I decided to wait a little longer before I sprinted."

There was a group of nine women wedged together as they entered the second and final lap of the 4km race, including Carla Sacramento, from Portugal, Merima Denboba, from Ethiopia, Kenya's Edith Masai and Rose Cheruiyot, with Britain's Radcliffe and Wami in the van.

As Radcliffe, winner of Saturday's long race, made a hard effort for glory, it was as if an action replay of events from 24 hours before was being played out, with Wami tucking herself close to the tall blonde's shoulder, with Masai, established in third place but losing ground on the leading pair by the stride.

The cold wind off the North Sea was stronger than the previous day, and as the leading pair entered the long home straight, Wami tucked right behind Radcliffe for protection, as if she were a racing cyclist.

"I kept trying to move aside, so that I wouldn't be a windbreak for her," Radcliffe said, "but she always got back."

Wami waited until she was past the 100 metres to go marker before starting her sprint. "I think Gete wanted it a bit more than I did today," Radcliffe said. "I wanted to win today, but yesterday's race was what I came here for. Today, I just ran because I didn't have anything to lose. My legs were tired today, I didn't feel as strong as yesterday going through the mud. But because of that, I was surprised at how quickly the field broke up on the first lap."