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Commonwealth Games 2002
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Athletics Sunday, 28 July, 2002, 10:05 GMT 11:05 UK
Marathon clean sweep for Aussies
Australia's Kerryn McCann flanked by her compatriots Krishna Stanton and Jackie Gallagher
McCann flanked by compatriots Stanton (left) and Gallagher

Kerryn McCann led an Australian clean sweep of the medals in the women's marathon at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester.

McCann, who has been training with Irish star Sonia O'Sullivan in recent weeks, was in a group of three athletes which broke away from the remainder of the field of 15 early on.

However, the Australian always looked the strongest athlete in the field and it was little surprise when she dropped firstly Namibia's Elizabeth Mongudhi and then Kenyan Esther Wanjiru at the 25 kilometre mark.

McCann told gold in 2:30.05 and was followed home by compatriots Krishna Stanton (2:34.52) and Jackie Gallagher (2:36.37) who is a former twice world triathlon champion.

It was McCann's first marathon victory after numerous top 10 finishes at major city marathons.

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The crowd support throughout the race was fantastic
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Kerryn McCann

"It felt so good finally being the first runner to come into a stadium after a marathon - something you dream of," said McCann whose husband Greg is a former Australian surfing champion.

"It's great that we won all three medals.

"I felt good all the way and the crowd support throughout the race was fantastic," added McCann.

McCann's victory was Australia's fourth win in the five times the event has been held at the Commonwealth Games.

Her career had been threatened last year by a stress fracture to her femur.

The Australian took a year out after the 1996 Olympics to have a baby
McCann crosses the finishing line

McCann took up the pace from the start and broke free of Kenyan favourite Wanijuru at around the 25km mark and by 30km enjoyed a lead of more than a minute and a half.

"I was surprised when she dropped off so quickly," admitted McCann.

"After she went I just had to relax and get on with finishing the race comfortably," added McCann.

The 35-year-old finished 28th in the 1996 Olympics before taking a break from athletics for a year to have her first child.

"I didn't want to run any more. I'd run all my life," she said.

"I wasn't getting any better, always running 2:34 or 2:35.

"I took 12 months off and came back so much mentally stronger.

"I really enjoyed it. It took eight minutes off my time.

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I told myself to keep going for my dad
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Fourth placed Debbie Robinson

"I think I will retire again after the New York marathon next year and have another baby," she said.

Thirty-six-year-old Stanton chopped over three minutes off her personal best in taking the silver medal.

Wanjiri, who dropped out near the finish, appeared to be hindered by a thigh injury.

England's Debbie Robinson was the top British finisher in fourth place in 2:39.43 - just outside her personal best - while Northern Ireland's Teresa McCluskey claimed an excellent fifth.

Robinson nearly dropped out because of a calf injury suffered after 12 miles.

"I told myself to keep going for my dad.

"He is the man who set me off running and I felt I owed it to him."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Gold medallist Kerryn McCann
"This is the first marathon I've won"
Silver medallist Krishna Stanton
"This is one of my best experiences"
Bronze medallist Jackie Gallagher
"Running is my first love"

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