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Freeman loses first race in four years

Sydney, March 22 (AFP): Olympic and world champion Cathy Freeman lost her first 400m race in nearly five years to fellow-Australian Jana Pittman in a track meet here Saturday.

Freeman won 25 consecutive races until her showdown Saturday with Pittman, the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games 400m hurdle gold-medallist.

It was 30-year-old Freeman’s first defeat over the distance since July 1998 in Oslo, where she competed with an injured foot to finish fourth.

Pittman and Freeman were together over the first 200m of Saturday’s race before Pittman pulled away with 150m to run.

Pittman, 20, clocked a qualifying time for the Paris world championships in August of 50.43 seconds with Freeman 51.81 and Rosemary Hayward third in 53.07.

Freeman had a mixed build-up to her much-anticipated race with Pittman, having ended her three-and-a-half year marriage to American Nike executive Sandy Bodecker late last month.

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