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Saturday, August 28, 1999 Published at 19:44 GMT 20:44 UK

Devers wins, but Engqvist earns plaudits

Gail Devers (centre) hits the last hurdle, but stays ahead of the rest

Gail Devers captured her third world 100m hurdles title - and in the process prevented Ludmila Engqvist completing one of the most remarkable comebacks in track and field history.

Seville 99
American Devers - who is also a double Olympic champion at 100m - dominated the race and romped home in 12.37 seconds.

But most eyes were on Engqvist, who underwent a mastectomy earlier this year, after breast cancer was diagnosed just a month before the operation.

John Rawling: "This is one of the most heart-warming stories of the year"
She also needed several bouts of chemotherapy to help her overcome the disease.

But after missing weeks of competition, the Russian-born athlete, who now runs for Sweden, fought her way back to the top of the sport.

And she claimed the bronze medal behind Devers, clocking a Swedish record time of 12.57secs.

Nigeria's Glory Alozie took second place in 12.44.

Devers' gesture

"Third place is brilliant," said 35-year-old Engquist, after only her seventh hurdles race in three years.

"This is a dream come true. Only three months ago I was facing the biggest battle of my life.

[ image: Ludmila Engqvist joins Gail Devers for the lap of honour]
Ludmila Engqvist joins Gail Devers for the lap of honour
After the race Devers embraced reigning Olympic champion Engqvist and insisted she join her on the victory lap.

Devers was quick to praise her beaten opponent.

"I am so proud of her," said the 32-year-old. "What she has accomplised just shows that if you believe in yourself dreams can come true."

Devers herself knows all about overcoming serious illness. Nine years ago she was diagnosed with the potentially fatal Graves disease and had to undergo chemotherapy and radiation treatment, before coming back in 1992 to win Olympic gold.

Engquist, who has had four sessions of chemotherapy and faces another three starting next September, refuses to get depressed about her condition.

"I don't get down in the blocks thinking poor little girl you've gone through much more than your opponents .. that is fatal," she said.

"No, I push aside any thoughts of the chemotherapy and concentrate on running the best race I can."

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