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DEFENDING champion John Mayock retained his Tesco Italiano four kilometres title at Balmoral yesterday after producing a thrilling sprint finish to beat Mike Power from Australia.

Both Mayock and the Australian, who was also runner-up last year, were given the same time of 10 minutes 59 seconds. Ian Hudspith produced a fine performance to earn a very creditable third place in 11mins 4secs.

The first half of the race was run in a slow, tactical fashion, Power forcing along the pace into a stiff breeze.

Then just before the twokilometre mark Hudspith hit the front as the leading quartet - including Mark Thompson - broke clear of the pack.

Hudspith gallantly led until the final kilometre when Power quickly increased the pace, dropping the Morpeth Harrier - but not a confident-looking Mayock.

Mayock waited until 200m from the finishing line before unleashing his deadly sprint finish. Power, the Australian 5,000m champion, tried to get back on terms but the Yorkshireman sealed a second victory. Sonia O'Sullivan won her eagerly-awaited Tesco Italiano five miles clash against Gabriela Szabo, who beat her for the Olympic 5,000 metres title two years ago.

Unlike that warm night in Sydney, the unpredictable Balmoral weather had turned for the worse and the wind was blowing strongly throughout the two-lap race.

The taller figure of O'Sullivan coped much better than her Romanian rival, eventually winning in a time of 25 minutes 16 seconds.

Third place went to Benita Johnson, Australia's 3,000 and 5,000m record holder, finishing in 25mins 56secs.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Mar 31, 2002
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