News24 Mar 2001

Double trouble ahead


Steven Downes for IAAF

24 March 2001 - Sonia O’Sullivan, the only athlete ever to have won the long and short races at the IAAF World Cross-country Championships, on Saturday suggested that trying to double up successfully in Ostend this year could be too demanding, even for runners of the calibre of Paula Radcliffe and Gete Wami.

Radcliffe and Wami took the gold and silver medals after a gruelling slog through a Belgian quagmire in Saturday’s eight kilometre race.

And both are among the entries for Sunday’s "short" race, over four kilometres, as both Britain and Ethiopia bid to win team medals in the event.

With her first senior World Cross gold medal around her neck, Radcliffe was uncertain whether she would race again on Sunday. "I need to have a warm down and a massage, and we’ll see how I feel in the morning," said the British woman.

"I might as well run, though, because I’ve got nothing to lose. This was the one I really wanted, though."

Radcliffe has experience of having run back-to-back races at the World Cross-country from last year in Vilamoura, Portugal, when she finished fifth and fourth on successive days.

But O’Sullivan, the double champion in Marrakech, Morocco, in 1998, reckons that the gruelling conditions in Ostend this year make such a prospect far more difficult.

"It’s not the sort of place you’d choose to go for a run," O’Sullivan said after jogging around the course on Friday night. "It’s downright boggy in places. I remember it was like that in Durham one year. I did OK, but it wouldn’t be my favourite conditions."

Marrakech in 1998 was the first year that the short races were added to the programme. "When I did it, it was the first year that there were two races, and the first year that the long race was extended to 8km. Everyone was a bit conservative in the long race that year, and that helped me.

"The course was firm and fast, too, and we definitely know that’s not going to be the case this time. It could really take it out of you," O’Sullivan said.

O’Sullivan, the winner of the Olympic 5,000 metres silver medal last year, had suffered a heavy cold over the past week. She was due to make a late decision on whether she should race herself in the 4km event on Sunday after a training run on Saturday evening.

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