Radcliffe's gold medal follows mid-race dizzy spell

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The Independent Online

Paula Radcliffe won her first World Championship gold medal in the International Amateur Athletic Federation half-marathon here yesterday despite suffering a mid-race panic attack.

Paula Radcliffe won her first World Championship gold medal in the International Amateur Athletic Federation half-marathon here yesterday despite suffering a mid-race panic attack.

The British runner crossed the line in 69min 07sec, well ahead of Kenya's Susan Kepkemei and Romania's Lidia Simon. Before the start of the event, Radcliffe, who suffers from asthma, taped her nose open to allow herself to breathe more easily in the stifling heat and humidity.

But two-thirds of the way through the race, the tape fell away and a slight panic went through the mind of the pre-race favourite. "I suddenly felt dizzy and I had to tell myself to keep calm," said Radcliffe. "As a result I just found myself going faster." That injection of pace saw off Simon, Kepkemei and last year's runner-up Nizuki Noguchi of Japan.

Britain finished sixth in the team race with Sarah Young-Wilkinson 19th in 75min 55sec and Andrea Green 45th in 84min 53sec. The team medal went to Romania ahead of Japan and Russia.

In the men's half-marathon, Paul Tergat, Kenya's Olympic 10,000 metres silver medallist, again proved he is the master of the distance, when he defended the title he won a year ago in Palermo on his Championship debut, running a leisurely 63min 47sec.

Tergat held off the Tanzanian teenager Faustin Baha with last year's bronze medallist, Tefaye Jifar of Ethiopia, again third in 63min 50sec.

Kenya also strolled to the team gold ahead of Ethiopia and Belgium. The British men's team finished well outside of the medals with their best time coming from Matthew Vaux-Harvey, who came 52nd in 69min 20sec.

WORLD HALF-MARATHON CHAMPIONSHIP (Veracruz, Mex) Men: 1 P Tergat (Ken) 1:03:47; 2 P Baha Sulle (Tanz) 1:03:48; 3 T Jifar (Eth) 1:03:50; 4 J Kimani (Ken) 1:03:52; 5 D Ruto (Ken) 1:03:59; 6 J Gwako (Ken) 1:04:16; 7 Z Bayo Amnaay (Tanz) 1:04:25; 8 O Fernandez (Sp) 1:04:25; 9 M Mazza (It) 1:04:26; 10 N Betim (Alg) 1:04:40. Women: 1 P Radcliffe (GB) 1:09:07; 2 S Chepkemei (Ken) 1:09:40; 3 L Slavuteanu-Simon (Rom) 1:10.24; 4 M Noguchi (Japan) 1:11:11; 5 P Chepchumba (Ken) 1:11:33; 6 M Botezan (Rom) 1:11:52; 7 C Pomacu (Rom) 1:12:06; 8 Y Okamoto (Japan) 1:12:20; 9 Y Hashimoto (Japan) 1:12:54; 10 M Glusac (US) 1:13:53.

* British athletics was facing embarrassment yesterday after reports said that if problems over the proposed arena at Pickett's Lock, in north London, are not resolved soon, the 2005 World Championships could be switched to Berlin.

The IAAF president Lamine Diack met the Mayor of Berlin, Eberhard Diepgen, recently to discuss the possibility of the German capital taking over. The latest move by the IAAF places further pressure on the British Government, Sport England and UK Athletics to find a solution to the problems at the proposed arena. "We hope that everything can be sorted out in time and there is a long way to go before 2005," said an IAAF spokesman, Georgiu Reineri. "But we all know Berlin and they would be very happy to host it."

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