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Sunday, 28 July, 2002, 19:53 GMT 20:53 UK

Radcliffe roars to elusive gold

Paula Radcliffe shed her reputation as the nearly-woman of world athletics by finally landing a major track title in the Commonwealth Games 5,000m.

Her long-awaited victory kicked off a golden night for English athletics, with Jonathan Edwards winning triple jump gold and Mick Jones landing the hammer title.

Radcliffe, the 28-year-old London Marathon winner, had endured a succession of near-misses in world and Olympic finals.

But on home soil in Manchester she at last struck gold with a devastating performance that gave her victory in her ninth major final.

And Radcliffe did it in style, smashing the Games record by more than a minute, setting a new personal best and threatening the world record in the closing stages.

"The time is irrelevant - I had to win this race"
Paula Radcliffe

Dangerous Kenyan Edith Masai finished a distant second with compatriot Iness Chenonges taking bronze.

A delighted Radcliffe said of her win: "I stuck to the plan, did what I was supposed to do in Edmonton [at the 2001 world championships] and now I've got the bear off my back of not winning a major championship."

And she added: "The time is irrelevant - I had to win this race.

"Choosing the 5,000m was the hard option because Edith was in such good form.

"But it's nice to get this out of the way so I can go to the Europeans in confidence."

Radcliffe relentlessly upped the tempo after taking the lead at the end of lap one and shook the field until, one by one, they dropped.

The first injection of pace, on lap three, cut the leading bunch to eight.

And by the end of the fifth circuit, only Masai was still in touch.

With the Cheshire-born athlete continuing to churn out the laps at world record pace the 35-year-old Kenyan was soon struggling.

Radcliffe shook her off with a mile to go and then continued to forge ahead with the clock her only remaining opponent.

And although the sluggish opening laps cost her the world record, her front-running style at last landed her the prize she really wanted.


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