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
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
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
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.