6th November 2022
JESS BAILEY CROWNED WORLD CHAMPION AS GB & NI WIN FIVE MORE MEDALS IN THAILAND
Great Britain and Northern Ireland rounded off a superb World Mountain and Trail Running Championships with five more medals on the final day of action in Chiang Mai in Thailand.
Jess Bailey (coach: Matthew Long, club: Leven Valley) and Rebecca Flaherty (Karen Glerum, Bingley) won junior women’s gold and silver in the up and down race, and also sealed team gold. Also, the senior women won a second team silver of the Championships in the mountain running races, while the junior men also reached the podium with a team bronze.
With an earlier start bringing relatively cooler conditions, the GB & NI junior women seized full advantage as they dominated the individual and team standings.
Flaherty led to the summit and alongside Bailey and Ellen Weir (Anne Hegvold, Hercules Wimbledon), they went through this section as a 1-2-3. However, Bailey was strong during the descent and overhauled Flaherty in the second half of the race. Ultimately, Bailey – who won 3000m track silver at the European U18 Championships in Jerusalem this summer – won by a comfortable margin of one minute 18 seconds to take her first world title.
Flaherty consolidated second position on a narrow and testing descent to the finish, crossing the line over 30 seconds ahead of Italy’s Axelle Vicari. Weir was just outside the podium positions in fourth, just seven seconds behind the Italian. Meanwhile, Emily Gibbins (Sally Malir, Ilkley) was joint 18th.
With three counters inside the top four, team gold was quickly confirmed to end a fantastic day for the British junior women.
Bailey said afterwards, “The junior women’s team are absolutely hyper after that. I hung back a bit in the early stages and I followed Rebecca up the first bit of the hill. We were always talking to each other during the race. I can’t really believe that I have won. We thought the team could possibly win a medal, but we didn’t think a one-two-four could happen.”
“As a team, we’ve learned so much from this experience, so we are very grateful to be here and get a chance to show what we can do. This has literally been the best day ever.”
Flaherty added, “It was amazing. I am so incredibly proud of the team; we had such a great run.”
“I pushed it hard on the uphill like I wanted to and took it easier on the descent to be careful, but I managed to keep a good pace altogether. The finishing straight was just an amazing experience.”
The junior men also impressed as they picked up team bronze behind Uganda and France.
As the Ugandan’s completed the top four positions, it was a case of the best of the rest, and GB & NI’s Finlay Grant (Dark Peak Fell Runners) earned that title as he crossed the line in fifth place overall. He was backed up by a fast-finishing Fraser Gilmour (Robert Hawkins, Kilbarchan) who excelled on the descent to take 10th position which aided the British team’s chances of a medal.
William Longden (Terry Fowler, Buxton) fought well for 19th, which was crucial in earning the team bronze, while Edward Corden (Michael Doyle, Stockport) was 26th at his first world championships.
After winning team silver on Friday in the uphill mountain running race, the senior women’s team matched that feat in the uphill race on the final day.
The squad contained three athletes who were in action two days earlier; Scout Adkin (Angela Mudge, Ambleside), Holly Page (Lewis Walker, Dartford) and Kate Avery (Shildon), and they were joined by Naomi Lang (Lewis Walker, Carnethy HRC) in this race.
Adkin once again showed her international quality as she battled for every place to take fifth position overall. Page also enjoyed another fine display as she also finished inside the top 10 with an eighth place position.
On her GB & NI debut, Lang narrowly finished ahead of Avery with only two seconds separating them in 25th and 26th. So, with an eight-point advantage over the Americans, the women grabbed team silver behind Switzerland.
In the senior men’s race, the GB & NI quartet finished in fifth position in the team standings, while Andrew Douglas (Sophie Dunnett) secured a top 20 placing.
The Inverclyde athlete continued his strong run of solid performances in a GB vest as he came home in 17th, with Ross Gollan (Sophie Dunnett, Shettleston) 15 seconds further back in 20th. Chris Richards (Duncan Richards, Helm Hill), coming back after racing the uphill on Friday, was 24th, while Alexander Chepelin (Carnethy) was 28th.
Uganda once again dominated the men’s race, with gold going to Samuel Kibet, and their team blocking out positions third to fifth to secure team gold.
The Great Britain and Northern Ireland Team medal tally (9)
Gold (2): Jessica Bailey – Junior Women’s Up & Down Race; Junior Women’s Team – Up & Down Race
Silver (3): Senior Women’s Team – Uphill only; Senior Women’s Team – Up & Down; Rebecca Flaherty – Junior Women’s Up & Down Race
Bronze (4): Jon Albon – Men’s Short Trail Race; Senior Men’s Team – Short Trail Race; Senior Women’s Team – Short Trail Race; Junior Men’s Team – Up & Down Race
*Photo credit: Jacob Adkin