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Athletes find racecourse tough

THERE were mixed fortunes for the five Kent athletes who represented Great Britain and Northern Ireland in the World Cross-Country Championships at the weekend. The Leopardstown Racecourse in Dublin provided a stern test of stamina with strong winds being a feature of the races televised live by BBC.

Allen Graffin (Belgrave Harriers) from Tonbridge was delighted to be second Briton in 50th place in the senior men's 12k race, only 17 seconds behind Sam Haughian (Windsor) who was 43rd.

The winner of this race and the senior men's 4k was Kenenisa Bekele (Ethiopia) who achieved an unprecedented double to announce his arrival on the world stage.

Spencer Barden (Belgrave Harriers) from Maidstone was third Briton in the men's 4k in 39th position behind John Mayock (Barnsley) and Phil Mowbray (Edinburgh).

Kent athletes provided half of the junior women's team and Charlotte Dale (Invicta) from Whitstable made an immediate impression by leading the 6k race in the early stages.

Lack of experience at international level may have been a factor as Dale soon slipped down the field to finish 31st overall but still the leading British athlete on her 18th birthday. Henrietta Freeman (Invicta) from Smarden was next home for GB in 45th place and Lisa Dobriskey (Ashford) closed the team in 68th position in a unique result for Kent athletics.

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