29 November 2014
Gemma Steel (John Nuttall) and Callum Hawkins (Robert Hawkins) were the winners of the senior/U23 races on the day at the British Athletics Cross Challenge event in Liverpool. Places on the plane to Samokov, Bulgaria for the European Cross Country Championships were secured by many athletes in an entertaining day at Sefton Park.
The senior/U23 women’s race was an exciting contest with Steel racing to a clear victory (26:58) ahead of Emelia Gorecka (Mick Woods) (27:09), who was making her first senior cross country appearance. The Charnwood athlete continued her fine success at the event to book her place on the plane to Bulgaria where she will aim to add European gold to her collection.
Steel commented post-race: “It’s a happy hunting ground for me over the last few years and it’s great to get a win here. I was a bit rusty after not racing for a month so I just wanted to try and get through it.
“There were a few of us taking turns at the front and I was trying not to get too carried away. I was listening to the breathing round me and I was thinking, ‘I’ve hardly started running yet’, so I put the hammer down and got away from them.
“I’m definitely going for gold in Bulgaria this year. I have (European Cross) silver and bronze so it would be nice to get the gold. It has always been a dream of mine to stand on the top of that podium.”
A thrilling finale in the senior men’s competition saw Callum Hawkins (29:26) triumph in a Scottish one-two to pip Andrew Butchart (Derek Easton) (29:28) to the victory. The pair were closely matched for most of the race, but it was the Kilbarchan athlete who surged away to guarantee selection for the GB & NI team for next month’s trip to Bulgaria. An explosive finish from Ross Millington (Steve Vernon) saw the Stockport Harrier finish three seconds behind Butchart for a well-deserved third place.
Hawkins said: “I didn’t have a great race in Leeds a couple of weeks ago but I’m really happy that I returned and changed the score this time around. I was thinking he’s tiring (Andrew Butchart) so I’ll get him on the corner and maybe get in his head a little bit and it seemed to work.
“I’m really please, that’s been my focus since the Commonwealth Games and hopefully I can sneak a medal in Bulgaria. I’ve got the engine to do it.”
In the combined women’s race of the U17 women and IAAF Junior Women, it was victory for Chelmsford’s Jessica Judd (George Gandy) recording 14:45 who improved on a third place finish in 2012. She crossed the line in first place ahead of Phoebe Law (Richard Holt) in 14:56 and early front runner Lydia Turner (Thomas Millmore) (14:57). Cambridge Harriers’ Sabrina Sinha was the victor in the U17 race clocking a time of 15:10.
Judd spoke after the race saying; “That was really good – my training has been going really well and I really wanted a good run. I thought I might have gone a bit too early but my legs held on.”
Turner had opened up a gap after the first lap and Judd added: “I wanted to go with it but I made my move where I wanted to. The agony of missing out last year through injury made me want to be in the team even more this year.”
In the IAAF Junior Men, it was a resounding victory for Invicta East Kent’s Abel Tsegay (Peter Mullervy) (20:31) finishing four seconds ahead of Croydon’s Peter Chambers (Mike Fleet) (20:35) and Kevin Mulaire (20:36), who finished in second and third respectively.
Second placed Peter Chambers, the first eligible finisher for the GB & NI team in Bulgaria spoke afterwards saying: “It is a bit of a shock to be honest, I didn’t really know how it would go. I knew I had to be patient and wait. I knew someone would go off hard but that gives you someone to chase and that helped me out to qualify for the GB & NI team.”
In the men’s U17 race, a thrilling finish saw City of Sheffield’s James Gormley (John Wood) pip Bingley’s Emile Cairess posting a time of 17.06 – six seconds in front of his Yorkshire counterpart.
The U15 girl’s race came down to a sprint finish between Giffnock’s Erin Wallis (Dudley Walker) and Wimborne’s Grace Copeland (Bob Smith) with the former coming out on top with a strong finish. An equally entertaining U15 boy’s race was won by Matthew Willis (Nigel Evans) of Wrexham AC who took a thrilling win, just edging ahead of Reece Curtis (Stephen Shaw) to the win.
Ayr Seaforth’s Emma Frew (Alan Sprang) (10:56) shook off an early race battle with Border Harriers’ Olivia Mason to take the U13 crown in style over 3km, with the boy’s equivalent won by Leeds City’s Tommy Dawson.
In the first race of the day it was Fraser Sproul (6:59) from Kendal AC who took a commanding victory in the boy’s U11s 1.9km race, while Carmarthen’s Daisy Thompson (Carol Jones) (7:35) was the winner of the girls U11.
Full results from Sefton Park will be available on this page shortly.