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Last Updated: Saturday, 23 August, 2003, 21:50 GMT 22:50 UK
Worlds off to a flyer
Steve Cram
By Steve Cram
BBC Sport

What a great start to the Worlds - for two main reasons: that wonderful 10,000m final, and the performance of Carolina Kluft.

The 10,000m was one of the best I've ever seen. Berhane Adere looked like she could run whatever was required to win - she was that comfortable.

The question I guess we'll all be asking is whether Paula Radcliffe could have beaten her if she were fit and at her best.

Berhane Adere celebrates victory in the women's 10,000m
Adere could well have been too strong for Paula Radcliffe

That's a tough one. Maybe Paula at her peak could have run a slightly faster race, but then we've seen in the past what Adere can do when she has a pacemaker to tow her along.

I just think that kick of hers over the last 200m would be too strong for anyone.

The race was so quick anyway. Just look at all the personal bests and national records that were set behind Adere.

Paula could look at it in two ways. The hard-headed athlete inside her will be saying: "Hey, if I was there, I could compete with them, I could find the strength to match them."

Then again, the pragmatist will say: "Look, you weren't fit, forget about this year, and get yourself ready for 2004."

As for Kluft, well, she just gets better and better.

In many ways that is no surprise. At 20 years old, she is the prime of her development as an athlete. You would expect her to keep improving.

But it is the manner in which she does it all which is so refreshing.

Not only does she keep setting personal bests by significant margins, but she has a whale of a time doing so.

I said before these championships that she was on the verge of becoming a major international star, and I stick by that.

The Worlds are the perfect environment for her. She feeds off the energy of the big competitions and uses it to her advantage.

In years to come, the problem she'll have to deal with is how to cope with the days when she's not setting PBs every time she competes, or is struggling with injury.

But for now she is in her element. And you can see that by how the French crowd is taking to her.

Here she is, beating one of the home country favourites, and all they can do is applaud her.

It hasn't been such a bad day for Denise Lewis, either.

She had two good events out of four, and if she has a good day on Sunday, could yet find herself in fourth or fifth.

That would represent a good return considering the disruptions she's suffered in her build-up.

For her, it's all about building up to the Athens Olympics next summer. And from that point of view, her performances here have been encouraging.





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