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Ethiopia's Defar takes 5,000 gold

August 24, 2004 01:52 IST
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Meseret Defar of Ethiopia took the women's Olympic 5,000 metres gold on Monday with a patient but perfectly judged display of distance running.

Defar, the 2004 world indoor champion over 3000m, helped to break the field and then kicked decisively 250 metres from home to win in a time of 14 minutes 45.65 seconds.

Kenya's Isabella Ochichi took silver in 14:48.19 with world champion Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia racing past Turkish world record-holder Elvan Abeylegesse to take the bronze in 14:51.83.

Ireland's Sonia O'Sullivan, the 2000 silver medallist, tailed off the back of the field early and crossed the finish line last.

After starting off at a pace that would barely have troubled the women's 20 km walkers who raced earlier on Monday, Chinese pair Sun Yingjie and Xing Huina stepped it up.

Almost immediately the 34-year-old O'Sullivan fell away.

At the halfway point Abeylegesse made her break and immediately strung out the field.

Only Defar and Ochichi were able to go with her. With three laps to go, though, Abeylegesse began to struggle and it became a two-woman race for gold.

With 250 to go Defar changed her stride. There was no response from Ochichi and the Ethiopian stretched away to complete an emphatic victory.

Dibaba, who won the event in Paris last year to become the youngest ever individual world champion, had looked unable to handle Abeylegesse's initial burst.

But she quickly hauled in the now clearly tiring Turk to take bronze and embraced Defar at the finish as Ethiopia celebrated another distance gold after Kenenisa Bekele's men's 10,000m triumph on Friday.

Abeylegesse, who set her world record of 14:24.68 in Norway in June, is also due to compete in the 1,500m in Athens.

The Africans were helped by the absence of defending champion Gabriela Szabo. The Romanian decided to take a year off after her health and form began to suffer because of her training workload.

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