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  • Saturday, August 28, 1999

    Abelicious!

    Seville goes wild as Spaniard wins marathon

    By TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun
      Seville, Spain - It was the perfect moment for Seville, for Spain and for the 7th IAAF Championships in Athletics.
     The stadium was near full. The Spanish flags were flying and Abel Anton of Spain was winning the marathon.
     It just doesn't get much better than that.
     
     'A GREAT MOMENT'
     '`For me, winning in Seville is special. It was a great moment for me to arrive first in the stadium, in my own country,'' said the gold-medal winner who finsihed in two hours 13 minutes and 36 seconds.
     '`This was one of the big emotions of my life. All these people came here to see a Spaniard win a medal. I fulfilled a dream for everybody.''
     "All of Seville was in the street supporting me," he said "I think there were around 200,000 people."
     Anton didn't think anything could compare with winning two years ago in Athens and ending up in the original Olympic stadium.
     '`The win in Athens was very special because of the original marathon course and to come into that stadium,'' he said. ``But to win this in Spain and to become the first to win two marathons in a row at the World Championships and to do it in front of these wonderful people was very, very special.''
     If he should go on to Edmonton 2001 to make it three in a row it can't possibly compare to Athens and here, for this one moment, it was all worthwhile for Seville '99.
     The marathon alone is a million-dollar expense for the local organizing committee, most of it in host broadcasting expenses.
     '`It's the one event which really showcases our city,'' said Edmonton 2001 CEO Rick LeLacheur, who had his people in TV trucks and around the course with an eye to setting up the event in Edmonton.
     The crowds in the street were wonderful in numbers and in enthusiasm, suggesting many of the empty seats at the stadium here might have been a result of over-pricing the tickets for the Spanish economy.
     The route showed off Seville to spectacular effect, with helicopter overviews of the runners as they passed the famous Seville landmarks and as they crossed bridges with runners and cyclists helping race on the other side of the road, if ever so briefly.
     When they entered Estadio Olympico they were met by the closest thing to a capacity crowd that they've had here - about 10,000 more, it seemed, than when they left.
     The crowd was standing watching Anton take the lead from Japan's Nobuyuki Sato on the video screen, screaming, singing 'ole, ole, ole,' and waving Spanish flags as the familiar scenes near the stadium came into view.
     
     CROWD EXPLODED
     The crowd absolutely exploded as he entered the stadium pumping his fist in the air, and blowing kisses to the crowd. Then, again the soccer style singing of 'ole! ole! ole!' as he grabbed a flag to wave to the world as he ran a victory lap around the track.
     Vincento Modica of Italy won the silver and Japan's Sato held on for bronze.
     Canadian Bruce Deacon finished 27th.


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