Emelia Gorecka improves on her bronze from last year with individual gold and team gold in Velenje, while Richard Goodman wins individual silver and team gold in the junior men’s race
Good things come to those who wait, and Great Britain’s Emelia Gorecka found that out for herself today in the junior women’s race at the European Cross Country Championships in Velenje, Slovenia.
The Aldershot athlete won bronze last year despite being one of the youngest athletes in the race. Still just 17 years old and with another two years in the age group, Gorecka timed her race to perfection to go two better than she did 12 months ago and secure the gold medal.
Romania’s Ioana Doaga, the European junio 1500m bronze medallist, took an early lead, with defending silver medallist Amela Terzic close behind. Germany’s Gesa Krause, Ukraine’s Mariya Hodakyvskaya and Gorecka were all near the front too.
At the end of the first lap, Doaga and Terzic were neck-and-neck and had built up a lead of five seconds over the rest of the field. Bunea and Gorecka broke away from chase pack at end of second lap, but still had work to do.
Gorecka then set out in pursuit of the leaders, who were now six seconds clear.
By the end of the third lap, Gorecka was just three seconds adrift of Doaga and Terzic, who were still locked in their own battle for the lead.
Meanwhile, Russia’s Gulshat Fazlitdinova had moved into fourth place, while Annabel Gummow was steadily moving through the field into a top-10 position.
On the final uphill section, Terzic moved into the lead as Gorecka edged closer. Team-mate Gummow broke away from one of the chasing packs to move into fifth place.
For the first time in the race, Terzic opened up some distance as Doaga surrendered the lead. Gorecka moved into second with Terzic in her sights.
With just over one minute of running left, the Briton hit the front and continued to put down the hammer. Terzic then faded to third and started to struggle quite dramatically.
Gorecka continued to drive hard to the finish and crossed the line in first place, clocking 13:13 for the 4km course. Doaga was one second behind, with Terzic further down the field, just managing to hold off Fazlitdinova.
Gummow finished sixth, with Britain’s Gemma Kersey and Katie Holt finishing 16th and 17th respectively. With four in the top 17, Great Britain won the team gold for the fifth time in the last six years.
Similarly, the individual gold medal went to an Aldershot, Farnham & District runner for the fifth time in the past six years, the previous winners being Charlotte Purdue and three-time winner Steph Twell, both training partners of Gorecka.
In the junior men’s race, Russia made their intentions known from the outset and by the end of the second lap they had four runners at the front.
Britain’s Jonny Hay, having seen his training partner Emelia Gorecka win gold in the women’s race just moments before, was also near the lead, along with Frenchman Romain Collenot-Spiret.
Russian leader Ilgizar Safiulin maintained the lead, but it was not a decisive one. At half way, Mitko Tsenov of Bulgaria moved into second with Hay in fifth and Richard Goodman in seventh, but Safiulin’s team-mates were always near by.
After 10 minutes of running, Hay moved on to the shoulder of Safiulin, but it was still anybody’s race. Two minutes later, Goodman had moved into the top five and Great Britain were making ground on Russia in the team stakes.
On the final lap, the three Russians – Safiulin, Andrey Rusakov and Vladimir Nikitin – again hit the front. Hay began to fade as Goodman got a second wind. Goodman temporarily moved into the lead with the three Russians close behind, but on the uphill section he surrendered his lead to Safiulin and Nikitin.
But with the hill out of the way, Goodman got back on terms with Safiulin and chased him down. So too did Nikitin and with less than a minute to go it was still anybody’s race.
Safiulin was not done, however, and with the finish line in sight he opened up his long loping stride to kick away to gold, covering the 6km course in 17:49. Goodman dug in to take silver, just holding off Nikitin to take the silver as they both clocked 17:51.
Despite fading on the last lap, Hay managed to finish eighth, one place ahead of fellow Brit Kieren Clements. Both Russia and Great Britain had three athletes in the top 10, but with Briton having two other runners in the top 17 (Niall Fleming and Mark Shaw), and Russia’s next best finishing down in 48th, it was Great Britain who secured the team gold with 30 points, some 29 points ahead of Russia.
» This Thursday’s issue of Athletics Weekly will feature much more coverage from the Euro Cross, with photos of all races, in-depth reports and analysis over 11-12 pages of the magazine.