Szabo deprived of European Gold by Ayhan

GABRIELA SZABO has Olympic and world championships gold medals but she was again deprived of European gold in Munich yesterday when Sureyya Ayhan of Turkey led all the way to win the women’s 1,500m title and break the national record for a fifth time, crossing the line in 3:58.79.

As in her semi-final heat when Ireland’s Geraldine Hendricken tried to stay with her, the 23-year-old Turk sprinted clear at the gun and opened up a 10 metre lead with Szabo, caught by surprise, back in sixth place.

After the leader passed 400m in 60.14, Szabo raced up into third place behind the Spaniard Nuria Fernandez and the Romanian was perfectly poised in second place when a 66.41 lap took them 800m in 2:06.55.

A 66.29 sec lap and Carla Sacramento of Portugal, the 1997 world champion, was out the back door and would eventually finish last of the 12.

Behind Ayhan and Szabo, Tatyana Tomashova of Russia came through to take Judit Varga of Hungary.

Turning into the finishing straight Sazbo unleashed her run but Ayhan responded and held her position in the finishing straight to win by just two one hundredths of a second.

Ayhan, a 23-year-old, won the 1,500m title at the World Student Games last year and, apart from having broken the national 1,500m record five times, also holds the national records for 800m and 2,000m.

Janne Holmen of Finland was surprise winner of the men’s marathon in a new career best time of 2:12.14 on a damp day when the Spaniards threatened to dominate the race but had to settle for the individual bronze and the team gold as the fin won from Pavel Loskutov (Estonia), 2:13.18 and Julio Rey, 2:13.21.

Holmen, whose mother won the women’s 3,000m title in 1974 and father finished 12th in the 1971 5,000m final, made his getaway after 5k when he was joined by Karl Rasmussen of Norway who faded to finish eighth in a career best time of 2:14.00.

World record holder Wilson Kipketer (1:41.11) who moved from Kenya to Denmark was always in control of the men’s 800m final and won from the fast finishing world champion, Andre Bucher (Switzerland) who overtook local hero Nils Schumann in the finishing straight, in 1:47.25. Four years earlier in Budapest he finished eighth behind a youthful Schumann who clashed with him at one point in the race, almost knocking him over.

Great Britain won both the men’s relays. Christian Malcolm, Darren Campbell, Mark Devonish and Dwain Chambers combined their talents to win the 4 x 100m relay in 38.19 secs from the Ukraine and Poland.

And Jared Deacon, Matt Elias, Jamie Baulch and David Caines held off the Russian challenge to win the 4 x 400 in 3:01.25 with France third, the Czech Republic fourth and Ireland fifth after Poland were disqualified.

Kajsa Berqvist (Sweden), bronze medallist at the world championships last year, won the high jump title.

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