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Farewell Sonia Watch

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    Sonia O'Sullivan's farewell appearance on Irish roads saw her outshone by her young training partner Victoria Mitchell.

    O'Sullivan was not given an easy final outing by the Great BUPA Ireland Run organisers and finished 11th in the 10 kilometre race she helped establish in Dublin's Phoenix Park four years ago.

    The 37-year-old Cork runner admitted before today's race - which attracted a record entry of 9,000 - that she is now winding down her international career.

    And her decision looks to be a wise one after Australian Mitchell finished in 33 minutes six seconds to see off the challenge of Preston's Helen Clitheroe and Spain's Alessandra Auguilar.

    Clitheroe led until just after seven kilometres when Mitchell - an accomplished 3000m steeplechaser who was fourth in last year's World Athletics Final - broke away to score an emphatic victory by 11 seconds.

    'She's a great talent for the future and I'm delighted that she came out the winner,' said O'Sullivan.

    The Sydney Olympic 5000m silver medallist admitted she expected to produce a better showing.

    She said: 'I thought I would have ran a lot better, but on the day you only get what you deserve.

    'But it was a great day for me with a fantastic atmosphere and plenty of support from fans all around the course.

    'Really, I couldn't have asked for more in a way of farewell.'

    Mitchell said: 'It was a tough race for me but I could hear Helen blowing a bit hard as we came up to 7K.

    'I decided to test her by pushing the pace a little bit harder and it worked out as she fell behind when we began climbing a bit of a hill.'

    The 25-year-old Australian who relishes training with O'Sullivan, insisted: 'Sonia has always been an inspiration to me when I've had the chance to join up with the group back home.

    'She's a total professional, who in her preparations is a perfectionist and I include eating, drinking and sleeping habits in that category.

    'She does everything completely right and is a great example to the rest of us privileged to train with her.'

    Mitchell ensured there was again an Australian champion but on this occasion her team-mate Craig Mottram lost his unbeaten meeting record.

    Chasing a fifth successive victory, Mottram fought gallantly but failed to match the breakaway speed of Kenyan winner Abraham Chebii.

    Gradually winding up the pace after four kilometres, Chebii pulled away to claim victory by 23 seconds in a time of 28mins 47secs with Spain's Chema Martinez third in 29:29.

    Chebii said: 'The conditions were great for me so I decided to put some pressure on the field by winding up the pace fairly early.

    'Only Mottram managed to go with me and then at 7K, I realised I was really hurting him and managed to pull away.

    'But he made it hard for me and even when I was clear there was no time to relax.'
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Updated: April 15, 2007
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