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Last Updated:  Sunday, 13 April, 2003, 12:08 GMT 13:08 UK
Abera snatches victory
Gezahegne Abera
Abera edges out Baldini
Gezahegne Abera took the honours in a thrilling men's race at the London Marathon.

The Ethiopian was one of five athletes in with a chance of victory as the leading group came onto The Mall five abreast.

But after Abdelkader El Mouaziz and Paul Tergat fell off the pace in the sprint finish it became a three-way race for the line.

And it was Abera who finished the fastest, with Italy's Stefano Baldini and Joseph Ngolepus of Kenya in second and third.

"There were so many athletes around towards the end that it was complicated, but my instinct told me when to go," the 24-year-old Abera said.

"I knew that (Paul) Tergat could be a threat, but I saw at the last minute that he was tired so I did not feel threatened by him, and I'm always confident that I can make a good finish."

The race was in sharp contrast to Paula Radcliffe's world record effort, but no less exciting.

Whereas Radcliffe set a fast pace throughout, the men were far more conservative.

The leaders remained tightly bunched throughout, and when they reached the Embankment with five still in the frame, it became overly tactical.

Moroccan El Mouaziz, a former two-time London winner, attempted to up the ante, but his efforts to break the group up came to nothing.

MEN'S RESULT
1 G Abera (Eth) 2:07:56
2 S Baldini (Ita) 2:07:56
3 J Ngolepus (Ken) 2:07:57

Baldini and Ngolepus also chanced their arms at the front of the field, but again the group stayed together only breaking after they had turned onto The Mall.

The first to crack was El Mouaziz, who had looked in severe trouble in the closing stages and was passed by Tanzania's Samson Ramadhani on the line, before Tergat also found the pace too hot.

And it was Abera's speed which was the deciding factor, the World and Olympic champion proving too strong over the final few metres.

It is a tried and tested tactic, Abera winning his previous three marathons by margins of one second, three seconds and two seconds.

On this occasion he left it even later, finishing with the same time as Baldini, echoes of the first London Marathon when Dick Beardsley and Inge Simonsen crossed the line hand-in-hand.

Ngolepus, who won the 2001 Berlin Marathon after starting as a pacemaker, broke his own personal best to claim an impressive third place in such a competitive field.





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