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Row with chiefs ends golden run by Tergat Sleepless nights hit champion

FIVE successive global titles, leaving rivals chasing his languidly loping shadow, testify to the cross-country supremacy of Kenya's Paul Tergat.

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Yesterday, however, in pursuit of a sixth world crown, he was brought to earth - after a furious row with his team management and threats to boycott the race. Bitter fighting until 4am, and no sleep prior to the 12,300 metres race of the International Amateur Athletic Federation world cross-country championships at Vilamoura, left Tergat in tatters. Management incompetence had ended his reign, he said: ''100%'', but he denied that shoe sponsorship issues had had a bearing on the matter. The crowd which flanked a trail as green and lush as the neighbouring Algarve golf courses had no inkling of the row, and were stunned when the Tergat turbo-charger failed to kick in over the final 600 metres. The Moroccan-born Belgian, Mohammed Mourhit, and Ethiopian Assefa Mezegbu were left to sprint clear for gold and silver. The former world 10,000m record holder on the track, Tergat clung on for third, leading Kenya to a fifteenth successive team gold, but it was the first time since 1991 that they had lost the individual crown, and not since 1984 have they failed to take neither silver nor gold in the classic race. ''You cannot be a winner every day,'' said Tergat, graciously congratulating his conquerors under a cloudless sky and in 75-degree heat. ''I respect the men who beat me. They are the champions today.'' Soon, however, the truth leaked out. Less than two hours before the race, Tergat and five colleagues had been resolved not to run. Management named Charles Kamathi, who had twice beaten Tergat this winter, but the athletes themselves believed his place should go to Joshua Chelanga, fourth last year. Tergat's friend and training partner, he had beaten Kamathi by five places in their national trial. ''I have five world titles - why would I be afraid of Kamathi?'' said Tergat. ''We just wanted justice to be done . . . There are a number of people who don't understand athletes and sport. It is us who do the job, not people who sit in an office.'' Management refused to bow to athlete power, and all but Kamathi, world's fastest at 10,000m last year, prepared to withdraw. ''We were ready to just go home,'' confirmed Tergat. ''The row had a bearing on the result, 100%, because we had not slept for three days. ''Did it cost me the title? Probably. I can say yes. The team has been under too much stress. We did what we did today for our country, and not because of the management. I do not regret losing my title - I am just so happy the team won.'' Normal Kenyan tactics, surging bursts leaving rivals unsure as to where the challenge will materialise from, were conspicuously absent. ''There was no concentration. We had no plan. There was no time for discussion about tactics,'' confirmed Tergat. It appears that the Kenyan team manager, David Okeyo, thought that either Tergat, as defending champion, or Kamathi, as leader of the world cross challenge, could be given a wild card, and that seven Kenyans would be allowed to run. That rule was removed three years ago by an IAAF commission of which Okeyo is a member. Kamathi finished seventh, but not in Kenya's counting team of four. Mourhit, who has one leg longer than the other, gained Belgian citizenship in 1996, but is African-born. With three of Britain's European gold-medal team absent, preparing for a marathon, seventh was a respectable UK team performance. Theye were headed by Karl Keska who made a huge break-through to finish 13th. Winners and British placings: (UK unless otherwise stated): Yesterday MEN. Senior 12,300 metres: 1, M Mourhit (Belgium) 35min 00sec; 2, A Mezegbu (Ethiopia) 35-01; 3, P Tergat 35-02; 4, P Ivuti 35-03; 5, W Kapkeny Talel (all Kenya) 35-06; 13, K Keska 36-13; 34, G Tromans 37-03; 47, M O'Dowd 37-26; 62, J Wild 37-43; 88, N Comerford 38-45; 107, R Denmark 39-43. Teams: 1, Kenya 18 points; 2, Ethiopia 68; 3, Portugal 69; 4, Spain 86; 5, Tanzania; 6, Great Britain 156. Junior 8080m: 1, R Kipchumba Kipkorir 22-49; 2, D Lebo Kipkorir 22-52; 3, J Korir Cheruiyot 22-55; 4, P Kemei Cheruiyot (all Kenya) 23-04; 5, M Sulle (Tanzania) 23-14; 25, M Farah 24-37; 41, C Thompson 25-14; 49, R Maycock 25-25; 101, P Shaw 26-29; 111, A Sherman 26-42; 116, N McCormick 26-54. Teams: 1, Kenya 10; 2, Ethiopia 47; 3, Uganda 68; 4, Tanzania 84; 5, Qatar 98; 12, Great Britain 216. WOMEN. Senior 4180m: 1, K Dulecha (Ethiopia) 13-00; 2, Zahra Ouaziz (Morocco) 13-00; 3, M Ngotho (Kenya) 13-00; 4, P Radcliffe 13-01; 5, F Maama-Yvelain (France) 13-06; 34, H Pattinson 13-38; 39, H Parry-Tullett 13-40; 61, A Newport 13-54; 76, L Wright 14-09; 94, C Walsh 14-34. Teams: 1, Portugal 46; 2, Ethiopia 55; 3, France 57; 4, Kenya 59; 5, Morocco 81; 7, Great Britain 138. Saturday MEN. Senior 4180m: 1, J Kibowen 11-11; 2, S Kipketer 11-12; 3, P Kosgei 11-15; 4, L Mucheru 11-21; 5, A Chebii Kosgei (all Kenya) 11-25; 38, D Heath 11-57; 64, R Whalley 12-08; 65, P Mowbray 12-08; 78, Andrew Graffin 12-17; 89, S Barden 12-27; 97, M Smith 12-34. Teams: 1, Kenya 10; 2, Ethiopia 46; 3, Morocco 68; 4, Algeria 88; 5, Portugal 100; 10, Great Britain 245. WOMEN. Senior 8080m: 1, D Tulu 25-42; 2, G Wami (both Ethiopia) 25-48; 3, S Chipkemei 25-50; 4, L Cheromei (both Kenya) 26-02; 5, P Radcliffe 26-03; 34, H Yelling 27-43; 44, L Yelling 28-02; 54, S Morris 28-27; 56, H Haining 28-37; 59, T Kryzwicki 28-39. Teams: 1, Ethiopia 20; 2, Kenya 23; 3, USA 98; 4, Ireland 101; 5, Spain 137; 6, Great Britain 137. Junior 6290m: 1, V Cheruiyot 20-34; 2, A Timbilil 20-35; 3, V Kibiwot Jelagat (all Kenya) 20-36; 4, H Sedelil 20-38; 5, M Hashim (both Ethiopia) 20-42; 55, H Freeman 22-56; 63, E Ward 23-09; 66, C Fagan 23-14; 75, K Reed 23-24; 84, J Potter 23-44; 95, Z Jelbert 24-19. Teams: 1, Kenya 12; 2, Ethiopia 24; 3, Japan 78; 4, South Africa 105; 5, Uganda 131; 10, Great Britain 259.

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