12 January 2008
Stephanie Twell, 18, the double European Junior Cross Country Champion, produced a stunning run to finish fourth in the Senior Women’s 6km race at the BUPA Great Edinburgh International in Holyrood Park this afternoon.
Determined to make amends for her disappointment in finishing “only sixth” at the Belfast International UK Cross Challenge seven days earlier, she showed the crowd exactly why she has been pre-selected in the Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland team for the IAAF World Cross Country Championships at the same Edinburgh venue on 30 March.
After making her usual steady start while sisters-in-law Liz and Hayley Yelling made the early pace, Twell eased through the field so effectively that she actually took the lead on the first steep climb up ‘the Haggis’ after about 3km.
The response by Gelete Burka (Ethiopia), the winner of this race for the past two years, was stunning: she stormed into a 20m lead on the descent of ‘the Haggis’ and went on to win in 19 minutes 58 seconds. World Junior Cross Country Champion Linet Masai (Kenya) ran a strong second half of the race to take second place in 20:13.
But tigerish young Twell (Aldershot, Farnham and District AC) relished a stride-for-stride battle to the line with Vivian Cheruiyot (Kenya), the World Championships 5000m silver medallist. Cheruiyot snatched third place but Twell was given the same time, 20:34, as she finished four seconds clear of Aniko Kalovics (Hungary) with Liz Yelling (Bedford and County AC) sixth in 20:51, Hayley Yelling (Windsor, Slough, Eton and Hounslow AC) seventh in 20:51, Gemma Miles (Kendal AC) ninth in 20:59 and Katrina Wootton (Bedford and County AC) tenth in 21:11.
Liz Yelling summed-up Twell perfectly: “She’s a strong little beast! It makes a nice change to be beaten by a GB youngster.”
Frank Tickner (Thames Valley Harriers), who swept the domestic cross country titles last winter, led home the GB contingent in an exceptionally high-quality Men’s 9.3km race. He finished ninth in 28:47, 65 seconds behind five-times World Cross Country Champion Kenenisa Bekele (Ethiopia) with the reigning World Cross Country Champion Zersenay Tadese (Eritrea) second in 27:43, the same time as third and fourth placed Eliud Kipchoge and Joseph Ebuya (both Kenya).
The best of the rest of the Brits in the long race were: 12 Antony Ford (Blackpool and Fylde AC) 29:32; 13 Andi Jones (Salford Harriers) 29:36; 14 Tom Russell (Stroud AC / Scotland U23s) 29:44; 15 Martin Mashford (Aldershot, Farnham and District AC) 29:45; 16 Jonny Gilby (Derby AC) 29:48; 17 John Newsom (Pitreavie AAC) 29:49.
Andy Baddeley (Harrow AC) won the Men’s 4.4km – but only thanks to his exceptional finishing speed after European Under 23 silver medallist Andy Vernon (Aldershot, Farnham and District AC) swept into a surprise 5-metre lead with barely 250m to go. Leaders:
1 Baddeley 12:52; 2 A Vernon 12:53; 3 Tom Lancashire (Bolton United Harriers) 12:56; 4 Mike Skinner (Blackheath and Bromley) 12:57; 5 Steve Vernon (Stockport Harriers) 13:02; 6 Neil Speaight (Belgrave Harriers) 13:02; 7 Gary Murray (Ireland) 13:04; 8 Mark Miles (Belgrave) 13:07; 9 Chris Parr (Gateshead Harriers) 13:10; 10 Scott Overall (Blackheath and Bromley) 13:13.
Two teenagers marked their England debuts with podium finishes at the prestigious international cross country meeting in Elgoibar, Spain, on Sunday 13 January. Beth Carter (Invicta East Kent) was second in the Junior Women's 4.44km race and Philip Berntsen (Andover and District AC) was third in the Junior Men's 6.47km event. For more details, go to http://www.englandathletics.org/ from Monday.