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Machado gives Portugal Marathon Gold

Steven Downes for IAAF in Budapest

BUDAPEST, August 23 - MANUELA MACHADO confirmed her position as Europe's top woman marathoner this morning, when she ran away from the field to retain her European Championship, and establish a championship record of 2hr 27min 10sec.

Machado thus deprived her Portuguese compatriot, Rosa Mota, of the record set in winning the second of her three European titles, at Stuttgart in 1986. The two Portuguese women have between them won all five European women's marathons.

The pattern of today's race was similar to the men's event on Saturday. After a steady, even slow opening 20km (reached by a group of 16 in 1:11:24), the decisive break came shortly after 30km (reached by the leaders in 1:46:44).

"At 34k, I pulled away from the rest of the field, just as I had planned," Machado explained. Only Madina Biktagirova of Russia was able to go with Machado's pace, but by 35km (Machado: 2:02:55) a 10-second gap had been opened, with Italy's Maura Viceconte a further 20 seconds back, clear in third.

Machado, who has won a gold (in 1995) and two silvers at the last three IAAF World Championships marathons, ran strongly to the finish, despite a headwind on the return towards the Nep stadium, and was nearly one minute clear by the finish.

Behind Machado's personal best, Biktagirova clocked 2:28:01, and Viceconte 2:28:31. Another Italian, Franca Fiacconi, overtook Belgium's Marleen Renders in the closing stages for fourth.

Forty of the 47 started finished, with Russia taking the European Cup four-to-score team prize, their quartet all clocked at inside 2hr 31min.