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UK Athletics

Great North Miles of smiles for Farah and Lyne

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Mo Farah and Becky Lyne
Home victories by Becky Lyne and Mo Farah – plus 3km world bests by Meseret Defar and Craig Mottram – provided an electrifying start to Great North Weekend on Saturday 30 September.


Lyne, the European 800m bronze medallist from Hallamshire Harriers Sheffield, wore bib No.1 with trepidation, pride and determination to storm home in the David Lloyd Leisure Great North Mile in 4 minutes 40.3 seconds, 4 metres ahead of Tatayana Golovchenko (Ukraine) with Helen Clitheroe (Preston) 5th in 4:48.1, Marilyn Okoro (Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers) 6th in 4:49.3 and Jemma Simpson (Newquay and Par) 9th in 4:57.4.


Always to the fore, Lyne went through halfway in 2:21 in the leading trio with Golovchenko and Jolanda Ceplak (Slovenia) and broke away with more than 450 metres to go. She explained: “I hadn’t planned to go so early, but after we came over the bridge for the last time, there was a slight downhill – and I just let my legs go. I got a bit of a gap and I’ve always been told, ‘When you go, you go! There’s no letting them come back’.”


The men’s 1 mile was even more of a thriller. Farah (Newham and Essex Beagles), the European 5000m silver medallist, got up in the final stride to defeat Ivan Heshko (Ukraine), who was bidding to complete a hat-trick of victories on this course. Both were timed at 4:05.5, with Farah’s Colin Jackson-like dip earning victory. Alex Kipchurchir (Kenya) was 3rd in 4:05.8, early leader Mike East (Newham and Essex Beagles) 4th in 4:09.4, Chris Warburton (Notts) 8th in 4:12.9, Chris Moss (Cardiff) 9th in 4:14.7, Steve Davies (Newport) 11th in 4:16.7, Sean Moralee (Durham) 12th in 4:18.3, Chris Parr (Gateshead) 13th in 4:20.6 and Chris Mackay (Greenock Glenpark) 13th in 4:21.2.


Heshko had looked odds on favourite to extend his winning sequence as he led the way into the finishing straight on Newcastle’s Quayside. But to the roaring approval of the home crowd, Farah mounted the kind of sprint finish that almost earned him the 5000m gold medal in Gothenburg last month. And unlike the outcome on the track, his head-long drive for the line earned him victory by millimetres.


“There was a slight gap,” he said, “and as I got closer to the line, I was thinking ‘I can get this … I can get this!”


His next athletics aim will be a gold medal as part of a winning Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland Team at the European Cross Country Championships in Italy.


“We can do it if we get everybody out,” he said. “We have a lot of capable people … Jon Brown and Karl Keska have done it before. Chris Thompson’s getting fit again. There’s Pete Riley and Nick McCormick.


“We’re just not lucky enough to have all of our top seniors all available at the same time. The last time they all turned out was in 1999 – and they won. I remember it because I was still a junior then. I want to be in a senior winning team now!”


Farah’s optimism will delight the Norwich Union GB Team selectors, whose policy is to focus pre-Christmas on the European Cross Country Championships while also supporting the Ekiden Relay in Japan on 23 November.


To round-off an afternoon of performances as bright as the sunny weather, both of the Newcastle / Gateshead Great North 3km Road Races were won in world best times.


Despite suffering from a stomach cramp, Meseret Defar (Ethiopia) won the women’s race in 8:46.9, well clear of runner-up Liliya Shobukhova (Russia), who clocked 9:07.9, with the UK’s only competitor, Laura Kenney (Royal Sutton Coldfield) 10th in 9:42.7.


Craig Mottram (Australia) sprinted home in 7:41.7 in the men’s race, 1.4sec ahead of long-time leader Eliud Kipchoge (Kenya) – and then revealed he is doing the 13.1 miles of the BUPA Great North Run tomorrow with Sonia O’Sullivan for a charity nominated by Sunderland Football Club’s new manager, Roy Keane. As the affable Mottram has also agreed to run in a red and white Sunderland strip, he may not have as many supporters in Newcastle tomorrow as he had this afternoon. Of the UK-based athletes in the men’s 3km, Moumin Geele (Newham and Essex Beagles) was 8th in 8:11.3, Tom Humphries (Cannock and Stafford) 9th in 8:17.2, Ryan McLeod (Elswick) 10th in 8:23.0, Mark Draper (Windsor, Slough, Eton and Hounslow) 11th in 8:27.1, Simon Plummer (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies) 12th in 8:27.8 and Ryan Stephenson (North Shields Poly) 13th in 8:29.6.