Kenyas 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
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