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Continuing my meandering paper chase through our world cross-country history, we come to the 1977 and 1979 championships in Dusseldorf and Limerick, respectively. The former saw Australia continue to move up with the debut of three 20-year-olds who would be the nucleus of future teams.

But – whatever happened to the women?

Followers of cross-country are used to seeing young runners make significant debuts. Did someone say Kenenisa Bekele? Or Zola Budd who, like Bekele, was a senior world champion before her 20 th birthday. Bekele, indeed, not only won the short-lived short race in 2001, but did the double a year later, all still three months before turning 20.

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