IAAF.org: Brussels victors Tergat and Burika aim at World Cross return
Paul Tergat returned to the cross country scene
2003-12-23Kenyas Paul Tergat returned to the cross country scene today after a three-year absence and showed the winning qualities that saw him win five consecutive World titles on the surface in the 1990s.
The worlds fastest half marathon and marathon runner won the prestigious Iris Lotto CrossCup - IAAF Permit - race for the third time and may now return to the same Park of Laeken venue in March to seek a sixth individual World Cross Country title (20-21 March 2004).
The 34-year-old Kenyan didn’t hit the front until the final 400m of the 10.5km course but when he kicked for home he quickly strided away from Ukraines European champion Sergiy Lebid, himself a renowned sprint finisher.
Belgian favourite Tom van Hooste made the pair work hard for he stretched the lead pack on the third of five laps and he led until the final 500m. Africans have dominated this race in recent years and the performance of van Hooste, fourth in last week’s European Cross Country Championships, was a surprise to the winner.
"I knew Lebid was in great form but Tom surprised me," said Tergat. "It was a very tough race but I am very pleased to have won. I knew I was in good shape but I have not done cross country for a very long time. This was proper cross country and I struggled to keep my balance at times."
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