Athletics: Ayhan beats Radcliffe to European award

Barry Roberts
Thursday 09 January 2003 01:00

Paula Radcliffe has been beaten in the vote for the European Athlete of the Year by Turkey's Sureyya Ayhan, but her fellow Briton Dwain Chambers has won the men's award.

Radcliffe, the winner of the 2002 World Cross Country Championships, the Commonwealth 5000 metres, te European 10,000m and the London and Chicago marathons, was outscored in the poll organised by the European Athletic Association.

Ayhan, 24, won the European 1500m crown but ran sparingly throughout the summer after recovering from injury and was unbeaten in four world-class metric mile races. The 1500m world No 1, she also won the World Cup final in Madrid and produced three sub-four-minute performances. The 2001 World University Games winner also clocked 3min 57.75sec, the fastest of the year, in the Brussels Golden League meeting.

However, Radcliffe, who broke the women's record for a mixed marathon with 2hr 17min 18sec victory in Chicago, won the vote in the IAAF Female Athlete of the Year poll. The European poll, featuring a new system where all votes were first counted by country, then the top 10 ranking points from each nation were added, made Ayhan the winner because Turks are widely dispersed across Europe.

Chambers, the European 100m champion, beat Steve Backley, who won a fourth javelin title at the European Championships in Munich in August. Chambers also equalled the European 100m record of 9.87sec at the Grand Prix final in Paris, finishing second behind the world record holder Tim Montgomery, and also won the European Cup in Anneçy, France.

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