Commonwealth Games / Holmes ends 12-year drought

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The Independent Online
ENGLAND lost the men's 1500 metres Commonwealth title for the first time in 20 years in Victoria yesterday, writes Duncan Mackay. But Kelly Holmes made up for it when she became the first English woman to win a gold medal in the event since Christine Boxer in 1982.

The Army PTI corporal continued to make massive strides in her season at the metric mile, though at times flirted with danger before winning in 4min 08.86sec. Fifteen runners toed the start line for the final - a number that could have presented all kinds of danger with so many inexperienced athletes in the field. On two occasions, Holmes came close to being impeded before getting herself out of trouble each time.

It was a typical championship final with no one prepared to cut out the pace. Holmes stretched the field out at the bell, but did not drop an inspired Paula Schurr, of Canada, until she kicked again with 175 metres left.

In contrast to the women's race, the men's was fast from the gun thanks to the Africans. Uganda's Julius Achon, the world junior champion, covered the opening lap in 56.67sec. Julius Tanui, of Kenya, then took over and looked as if he would hang on until his team-mate Reuben Chesang came hurtling past down the home straight. His winning time was 3min 36.70sec. Kevin O'Sullivan, of Canada, finished second.

It brought to an end the English domination of the event begun by David Moorcroft at Edmonton in 1978, extended by Steve Cram in Brisbane in 1982 and Edinburgh in '86, and Peter Elliott in Auckland four years ago.

Elliott, injured for the last three years, retained plenty of interest in proceedings through Barnsley's John Mayock, who he now coaches. The 24-year-old finished strongly to take the bronze in 3min 37.22sec. Like marathon bronze medallist Mark Hudspith, Mayock was a late addition to the team. 'I hope I proved a point,' he said. 'Everyone says I'm a 5000 metres runner. But where were the other Britons today?'