Athletics: Radcliffe lets title lapse

By David Martin
Saturday 29 March 2003 01:00

Paula Radcliffe, the reigning women's long course champion, is the most notable absentee from this weekend's IAAF World Cross Country Championships.

Radcliffe is currently completing her preparations for the London Marathon on 13 April. Victory in the long course today would have given her a third successive win, a feat last achieved by American Lynn Jennings 10 years ago.

The British selectors hope the women's short course side are in the hunt for medals, while Charlotte Dale could be in contention in the junior race.

The cross-country community has been critical of Britain's decision not to enter full teams in each race for the first time in the 30-year history of the event.

Radcliffe said after breaking the world 10-kilometre road race record in Puerto Rico last month that full teams should only be sent if the athletes were good enough. Only Louise Damen and Hayley Yelling are due to start the 8km contest here at Switzerland's National Equestrian Institute.

The opening day's action also sees Dale, winner of the European junior title in Croatia last December, take on a formidable field, while the men's long course world champion, Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia, has recovered from a food-related illness and will defend his title tomorrow.

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