Athletics: Yelling shows rich promise

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The Independent Online

Liz Yelling finally made the podium at international level when she finished third in the Great North Cross Country in Newcastle.

Yelling led for three-quarters of the 6.2 kilometres race on Saturday before losing out in the closing stages to the Kenyans, Susan Chepkemei and Esther Kiplagat.

Her training partner Paula Radcliffe is predicting, if Yelling can continue her progress since turning professional two months ago, Great Britain could win a team medal when Dublin hosts the World Cross-Country Championships in March.

Radcliffe, recovering from a knee injury, said: "I was kicking myself for not being being able to be there but it was marvellous watching Liz's performance."

"She was really positive and it was easily her best run for many years. She used to run like that and not be afraid of anyone. She really went for it," the reigning world cross-country champion added.

The world junior champion Kenenisa Bekele, of Ethiopia, cruised to an almost effortless win in the men's 9.2km race. He finished nine seconds clear of Kenya's Ben Limo, a former world 5,000 metres silver medallist.

Bekele was a late entry – indeed he only got his place after the personal intervention of his coach Haile Gebrselassie.

It might be too early to predict that the teenager is talented enough to match the two Olympic and four World 10,000 metres successes gained by Gebrselassie.

Although, Gebrselassie said: "It would be great if Bekele could follow in my footsteps. He's made a promising start and beat almost all of the top contenders for the World Championships on Saturday."

There was also a fourth Bupa International 4km title – and the third in succession – for Gareth Turnbull. The Irishman beat Barnsley's John Mayock by three seconds.

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