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Commonwealth Games 2002

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Saturday, 23 March, 2002, 13:08 GMT
Radcliffe takes world gold
Paula Radcliffe holds aloft the Union Jack after her win
Radcliffe emulated the achievements of Jennings
Paula Radcliffe became the first woman in a decade to successfully defend her World Cross Country title with a convincing victory in the eight-kilometre event.

The Briton emulated the feat of America's Lynn Jennings as she held off a dual American threat for the gold medal in Dublin on Saturday.

The British team captain was put under immense pressure by Deena Drossin before pulling seven seconds clear at the finish.

Drossin's team-mate, Colleen de Reuck, was third.

Radcliffe insisted she was delighted with the result despite a trio of big name absentees - Derartu Tulu, Berhane Adere and Gete Wami.

She said: "I really felt great out there.

"London (the Marathon) was my main aim this year so I am happy, having concentrated on that, it hasn't cost me this title.

Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele
Bekele is expected to compete in the long-course

"The course was really testing with the strong wind and the pace was quick from the start.

"But I was confident going into the race - and it was mine to lose. I wasn't sure where Deena was coming into the last half mile. I was getting conflicting messages from the spectators. They were great all the way round."

Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele took the early plaudits on Saturday with victory in the four-kilometre short-course race.

The 19-year-old, runner-up to Kenyan Enock Koech in last year's event, proved too strong for the predominantly Kenyan threat.

Kenya's Luke Kipkosgei finished second, seven seconds behind Bekele, while Hailu Mekonnen, of Ethiopia, sealed the bronze medal two seconds further back.

Kenya took the team title with the Ethiopians pushed into second, while Britain's John Mayock was back in 22nd in the individual standings.

Bekele is expected to run in Sunday's blue-riband event - the 12km race - but faces stiff opposition from Mohammed Mourhit, eyeing a hat-trick of championship titles.

The junior event was once more dominated by Africa as Kenya's Viola Kibiwot edged out Tirunesh Dibaba by a single second at the course in Leopardstown.

The result came despite the 18-year-old Kibiwot almost being directed off course just ahead of the finish line.

The hosts' hopes rest on Sonia O'Sullivan who competes in Sunday's 4.2km event.

BBC Sport's Mike Costello
"Radcliffe is in pristine condition"
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