Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

North East's Golden Girls Celebrate European Glory

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

North East's Golden Girls Celebrate European Glory

Article excerpt

Byline: Bill McGuirk

IT WAS gold all the way for the region's three representatives in yesterday's European Cross-Country Championships in Belgrade.

The previous day's covering of snow on the course in the Serbian capital disappeared, leaving a fast, flat twisting contest.

And how well the GB&NI teams performed as they came out on top of the medal table with six golds, one silver and five bronze medals.

The North East trio os f Laura Weightman, Lydia Turner and Kate Avery certainly played a huge part in the success.

Birtley's Turner was the first on the start line competing in the under-20 4km event at 10am local time, and the early start was no problem for the 17-yearold, who was not only the baby of the GB team but also one of the youngest in the race.

Running against girls two years her senior, Turner, as is her style, set off aggressively and settled in the leading bunch and, with a third of the distance covered, was in sixth position.

It was only in the final kilometre that the fast conditions began to tell on Turner and she eventually slipped back to finish in 13th place, which, on her GB debut, is an absolutely superb performance.

Cheered on by coach Tom Millmore and mum Julie, Turner, in her first outing in a GB vest, helped the team to a resounding victory as they finished on 24 points with Sweden finishing second on 75 and Germany third with 95.

Millmore, who was supported by the Birtley Athletics Club for the trip, said: "Lydia ran really well and I'm sure everyone is as proud as I am at the moment.

"It's been a great experience for myself and Lydia and it will live with her for a long time.

"She is so proud and happy to have been given the chance to represent her country.'' The British squad was led home by pre-race favourite Emelia Gorecka, who was first across the line in 13min 06 secs winning by 10 seconds from Sofia Ennaoui (Poland) and Slovakia's Marusa Mismas, a similar distance back in third place. Turner, who recorded 13:44, was just 38 seconds behind Gorecka and only 17 seconds away from bronze medallist Mismas, such was the closeness of affairs as the 107 athletes surged across the line.

Meanwhile, Avery and Weightman were eager to emulate their North East team-mate when they lined up in the under-23 6km event which followed before noon.

The British team were always going to be favourites for team honours especially with Charlotte Purdue returning back to top form after a two-year lay off through injury.

And so it proved and while Sifan Hassan (Netherlands) was first home in 19:40 followed six seconds later by home based Amela Terzic, Purdue finished a further three seconds back in third place. And she was backed up superbly by Shildon's American University-based Avery, who finished in a comfortable fourth place, while Morpeth Olympic 1,500m finalist Laura Weightman continued her cross-country experience with a battling eighth-place finish. …

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