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  Thursday, 28 November, 2002, 13:43 GMT
Athletics: Radcliffe reigns
Paula Radcliffe celebrates winning European 10,000m gold in Munich
Radcliffe celebrates winning European 10,000m gold

It was not a year of many world records, but two were something special.

At the start of the season, Tim Montgomery had told anyone who would listen that he would set a new 100m mark.

No-one really believed him. But on a windy September day in Paris the American ran 9.78 seconds to beat Maurice Greene's old record by one one-hundredth of a second.

It was a bad year for Greene. Defeat after defeat to Montgomery and Dwain Chambers left him as vulnerable as at any time since he roared to prominence in 1997.

The other new world best came from Paula Radcliffe, in a year when she was truly the greatest female athlete around.

She retained her world cross country title, ran an incredible first marathon in London, and took Commonwealth 5,000m and European 10,000m gold.

Radcliffe then capped it all by smashing the marathon world record in Chicago.

From an athlete who in the past had made an unfortunate habit of gallant defeat, it was an incredible sequence of success.

Chambers, too, made a major breakthrough.

He put the disappointment of the Commonwealth Games behind him to equal Linford Christie's European 100m record and take an authoritative win at the European Championships.

That event also saw wonderful performances from Colin Jackson and Steve Backley, both of them winning their fourth consecutive European golds.

Ashia Hansen's Commonwealth and European double matched Backley, while Jade Johnson's brace of long jump silvers announced her arrival on the world stage.

Of the established stars, Hicham El Guerrouj continued in the same imperious vein of form as 2001, while Marion Jones ticked along without ever looking her best.

Her burgeoning relationship with Montgomery was the talk of the circuit, even if his nickname of "Fly-Mo" wasn't quite as good as Greene's "PhenoMonal".

Felix Sanchez and Ana Guevara ruled over 400m hurdles and the 400m flat respectively, Sanchez's form suggesting that he could even double up at the one lap event in 2003.

Svetlana Feofanova took over Stacy Dragila's mantle as the world's best female pole vaulter, while Kostas Kenderis produced a brilliant run in Munich to underline his position as the world's best 200m runner.

Meanwhile, Brahim Boulami and Janine Whitlock's positive tests for performance-enhancing drugs reminded the sport of the battle it still faces with doping.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
World 100m record holder Tim Montgomery:
"I knew what I had to do"
Radcliffe's golden last lap

In-depth look back at a wonderful year of sport

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