Britton is great, whilst UK athletes show well in Edinburgh
When senior GB athletes (outside of Mo Farah) came up against some of Africa and Europe’s finest XC runners in the past they were often found wanting. However, today’s showing at the BUPA Great Edinburgh XC demonstrated just how far they have come in the last few years.
The fact that junior Jonny Hay soundly beat the great (though obviously below par) Kenenisa Bekele in the 3km race and was just a few seconds behind Olympic 1500m champ Absel Kiprop in second place – whilst beating last year’s 4km winner Eliud Kipchoge into third – bodes well for the young Aldershot runner’s future.
So does the excellent showing once again from Gemma Steel, around 20 seconds behind 2011 Euro XC champion Fionnuala Britton in the women’s 6km race, who simply ran away from the field in a virtual carbon copy of her win in Slovenia last December.
Frank Tickner and Steve Vernon mixed it with Spain’s Ayed Lamdassem and Belgium’s Atelaw Bekele in the 8km men’s race. Lamdassem was supreme over the last 300 metres sprinting away from Bekele to reverse the result from the European Champs, but Tickner showed something like the form which took him to two National XC titles in 5th, with Vernon in 7th (the Stockport man then went on to take 9th in the 3km race less than one hour later!).
The GB & NI team’s strength in depth was demonstrated with Vernon, Tom Humphries finishing strongly in 8th, Jonathan Taylor in 10th and Keith Gerrard in 12th – the point is that only Tickner was part of the silver medal winning GB team at the recent Euro XC.
Juniors Emelia Gorecka and , Mark Shaw and Kieran Clements had superb runs in their respective races – with Gorecka (still only 17) taking some impressive US scalps, winning by over 20 seconds. Clements led the junior team with an impressive second place finish in the 6km junior men’s race, just ahead of Shaw who had been at the head of affairs for much of the race.
Take in the excellent BBC TV coverage and all in all it was a great start to Olympic year for UK athletes and UK Athletics – Ian Stewart must have been very pleased!