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  Sunday, 11 August, 2002, 14:00 GMT 15:00 UK
Finn springs marathon surprise
Janne Holmen delights Finnish fans by winning the marathon
Janne Holmen secures his men's marathon victory

Finland's Janne Holmen pulled off a major shock on the final day of the European Athletics Championships when he claimed the men's marathon in heavy rain.

Holmen - who easily beat his personal best by nearly five minutes in a time of 2:12.16 - and Karl Rasmussen of Norway executed an early breakaway.

The move destroyed the hopes of several better-known runners, including sliver medallist Pavel Loskutov of Estonia and Spain's Julio Rey, who claimed bronze.

The Scandinavian duo - neither of whom ranked in the top 20 of the 34 starters - thrived in the wet conditions and opened up a one-minute gap by the 10 mile (15km) point.

Despite the continued efforts of the chasing group, the margin then increased to 1:29 at the 20-mile (30km) mark.

Benoit Zwierzchlewski of France, Italian Daniele Caimmi, Rey and Loskutov broke from the rest of the pack, but they were already too far behind.

Decisive break

Holmen, whose mother Nina won the European 3000m gold for Finland in 1974, had not previously run in a marathon this year.

But that did not show as he broke away from Rasmussen with five miles (7km) left, quickly increasing his lead to over 30 seconds.

The 100-1 outsider then powered through the last part of the course on his way to Finland's first gold.

In doing so he matched the achievements of compatriots Armas Toivonen, Vaino Muinonen and Mikko Hietanen, who won the first three marathon in the championships - the last coming in 1946.

Rasmussen was denied a medal as he was caught with little over a mile left, and Loskutov just outsprinted Rey in the stadium to claim sliver, a minute behind Holmen.

Caimmi was fourth, and Rasmussen ended in eighth, with the consolation of having reduced his personal best by 44 seconds to 2:14.08.


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