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News Archive

European Cross Country Championships in Germany: Sergej Lebed takes fifth title, Hayley Yelling wins and steps in for Paula Radcliffe

Hayley Yelling and Sergej Lebed won the gold medals at the European Cross

Country Championships in Heringsdorf on the German island Usedom.

While Lebed broke a record winning for the fifth time (1998, 2001, 2002 and

2003), it was the first time for Hayley Yelling and the biggest success of her



Sergej Lebed
Winner men


Hayley Yelling
Winner women


Jo Pavey
3rd place women


Alexander Lubina


In the men’s race over 9.640 metres Sergej Lebed promptly took the

initiative and had placed himself in right behind the Spaniard Juan Carlo de la

Ossa who was providing the speed. In the fifth of seven laps the 29-year old

broke away from de la Ossa. Constantly increasing his lead, Lebed finally

reached the finish in 27:31 minutes.

De la Ossa came in 23 seconds later and got the silver medal. Third place went

to the Frenchman Driss Maazouzi in 28:05 minutes.

I know the Spanish guys. They are very strong and you have to pay


„When it came down to the fourth lap, I felt great. At that moment I knew

that I will win the race“, Sergej Lebed explained. On the question, how

he estimated his sharpest pursuer, the winner explained: „I know the

Spanish guys. They are very strong and you have to pay attention to them the

whole time.“

For some time it looked like Driss Maazouzi, the native Moroccan who starts for

France, would have a chance to fight for the gold medal. He had caught up to de

la Ossa and Lebed. But the Ukrainian increased the pace and the indoor champion

at 1500 metres in 2003 was defeated. „After 6 k I could not follow

anymore because 3 k are already too long for me mentally. But I like x-country

because that is my base for running during outdoor season“, explained

Driss Maazouzi.

A sprint finish

The women’s race over 5.640 metres was more exciting. After three out of

four laps there were still nine runners at the front. At the end there was a

sprint finish. It was only in the last 50 metres that Hayley came from behind

to take the gold. She won in 18:06 minutes before Justyna Bak (Poland/18:07)

and her countrywomen Jo Pavey (18:08). Fourth was Mihaela Botezan (Romania),

who had exactly the same time as Pavey.

„On the last 50 metres I thought I would become 4th, but then I had to

think about the last Olympics for which I did not qualify due to 14/100 of a

second. Thus, I fought and won – I am so happy“, said

Britain’s Cross Champion of 2003. So Hayley Yelling replaced Paula

Radcliffe perfectly. The title holder, who just won the New-York Marathon a

month ago, did not defend her title.

The European Cross Country Championships had practically no


Unfortunately the people who drove on the island Usedom on Sunday morning

noticed nothing from the athletic event. No posters, no advertising banners,

not even a sign. Thereby for the first time the European Cross Country

Championships were organized in Germany. After Berlin had gained the World

Championships in Athletics in 2009 eight days ago with an excellent

presentation, the European Cross Country Championships had practically no

publicity. That was obviously particularly because of the regional aligners,

who did not understand to win public.

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