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Olympics: Holmes wins Gold for Britain, Defar takes 5,000 metres

2004-08-24

24 hours after Paula Radcliffe’s marathon drama British fans got an unexpected gold medal to celebrate: Kelly Holmes won the 800 metres in 1:56,38 minutes. At 34 years she finally celebrated the biggest triumph of her career. She was just five hundredth of a second in front of Morocco’s Hasna Benhassi while Jolanda Ceplak (Slovenia) took the bronze in 1:56,43 Minuten. Maria Mutola (Mozambique) came in fourth with a time of 1:56,51. The winner of the Sydney Olympics missed the chance to become the first woman in Olympic history to win two 800 metre gold medals.

After the start Mutola was running in fifth place. Right behind her was Ceplak and in seventh position Holmes. It was at the beginning of the last lap when Mutola began moving towards the front, still with Kelly Holmes running behind her. Mutola was then leading the field when they entered the home straight. But Kelly Holmes was getting nearer and nearer with a tremendous effort. She passed Mutola, her partial training partner, and hold on to win her biggest title. Benhassi and Ceplak were coming strong from behind. But they were too late to stop Kelly Holmes, who absolutely deserves this gold medal.

“It was a hard race for me, because I had a muscle injury in July. Because of Kelly and me training together she knows my weak points. But she really deserves this gold medal”, Maria Mutola said. “I ran for my life on the home straight”, said the best ever British middle distance runner. “I had a lot of low points in my career, but this race today makes up for all misery.” At two Olympic Games and at a number of World Championships Kelly Holmes had been extremely unlucky. Before the Olympics in Atlanta she had suffered of a stress fracture. She finished fourth in this event. Four years ago she had a muscle injury before the games but managed to snatch a bronze medal. “Because of these bad experiences my main aim this year was to stay healthy”, Kelly Holmes said. Since 2002 Margo Jennings is her coach. He is the long time coach of Maria Mutola as well.

The second final of a running event this evening produced a small surprise as well. Because one of the big favourites at 5,000 metres, Elvan Abeylegesse (Turkey), came in only in twelveth position with a time of 15:12,64 minutes. It was in June when she had set a new world record for 5,000 metres (14:24,68). Additionally Edith Masai, Kenya’s World Cross Country Champion, dropped out of the race. 20 year-old Meseret Defar won the gold medal in 14:45,65. Isabella Ochichi (Kenya) was second with 14:48,19 and Tirunesh Dibaba (Ethiopia/14:51,83) took the bronze medal.

After a first lap of jogging the Chinese runners Yingjie Sun and Huina Xing increased the pace. During the second half of the race Abeylegesse, Defar and at a later stage Ochichi were in the lead of a meanwhile well stretched field. Abeylegesse soon lost contact while Ochichi had no chance on the last 200 metres against the speed of Defar. In March Defar had also won the 3,000 metres at the World Indoor Championships.


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