Davies wins individual title and leads GB to team silver as all of Britain’s under-23 and junior athletes claim team medals
Jonny Davies became the first British man to win the under-23 title at the European Cross Country Championships, running a well-judged 8.08km with a confident finish to get gold ahead of Spain’s Carlos Mayo and Germany’s Amanal Petros in Hyères on Sunday.
Davies’ team-mate Marc Scott had led from fellow GB athlete Richard Goodman at 15 minutes but the front group was packed close and Davies, Petros and Mayo, who claimed junior silver in 2014, were soon battling it out for the medals.
Mayo and Davies made their move and while the Spaniard, who claimed European under-23 5000m bronze in Tallinn in July, looked powerful, 5000m sixth-placer Davies was focused on the finish and only looked back once to see how much time he might have to celebrate on his approach to the tape.
Easing slightly he raised his arms and crossed the line with 23:32 on the clock, three seconds clear of Mayo. Petros was a further four seconds behind, one place ahead of Scott who was given the same time.
“I’m over the moon,” said Davies. “I came in thinking I had a chance of winning but you never quite believe it.”
Spain claimed team gold, as Goodman in 11th and Henry Pearce in 25th also contributed to GB’s team silver ahead of France.
“I was happy to be running at the front with Marc and Rich for the first few laps,” added Davies. “It’s comforting as you know your team mates. “It’s unfortunate we didn’t quite win team gold. It would have been nice but I think we all gave it a good shot and we are very happy.”
Laura Muir finished fourth to lead GB to under-23 women’s team gold, the world 1500m fifth-placer just fading in the final stages to miss out on an individual medal too.
Belgium’s Louise Carton, the silver medallist over 5000m at the European Under-23 Championships this summer, had created a gap ahead of chasers Muir, Jip Vastenburg of Netherlands and Serbia’s Amela Terzić over the 5.94km course but European under-23 10,000m champion Vastenburg chased her down with the finish line in sight to see that both athletes were given an identical finishing time of 19:46.
Muir’s time of 19:53 saw her finish four seconds behind two-time European under-23 1500m champion Terzić and the Briton said: “I ran the race as I planned to and trained really well but just that last lap or half lap I didn’t have the legs.
“I’m really proud of the girls,” she added on the team performance. “They ran really, really great and it’s a team effort as much as an individual so I’m chuffed I got a gold medal.”
Madeleine Murray finished 10th, Jenny Nesbitt 13th, Rebecca Murray 14th, Beth Hawling 21st and Calli Thackery 25th as the GB team secured 41 points ahead of France’s 71 and Italy’s 82.
Crippa retains junior title as Klosterhalfen gets gold ahead of Knowles-Jones
Germany’s Konstanze Klosterhalfen had finished third behind Britain’s Bobby Clay and Amy Griffiths over 1500m on the track at the European Juniors this summer but she had the strongest finish on the Hyères course as she out-sprinted GB’s Harriet Knowles-Jones to get the under-20 gold.
Clay had been one of the pre-race favourites for the 4.15km race and she was straight to the fore along with Knowles-Jones, Klosterhalfen and Spain’s Celia Antón. GB’s Sabrina Sinha had settled herself within a chase pack along with another pre-race favourite, Germany’s double European junior track champion Alina Reh.
As the race entered the final wooded section, Knowles-Jones began to stride away but Klosterhalfen had enough left to come through and clock 13:12 to the Briton’s 13:16. Reh had a strong finish and was rewarded with bronze in 13:20 ahead of Antón’s 13:27 and Clay’s 13:29.
“I did not expect that, that was brilliant,” said 17-year-old Knowles-Jones. “I wasn’t sure the course would suit me but it was good. It was twisting and turning, very flat.”
Sinha was the third Briton to finish with 13:43 for 11th and Mari Smith was the fourth member of the GB team as she finished 22nd. Griffiths seemed to have stepped to the side of the course during the race but returned running to finish 38th and this had an impact on the team standings. Great Britain had taken a fifth consecutive junior team gold in Samokov but got silver here as gold went to Germany with athletes having taken first, third, sixth and 10th places. Bronze was claimed by Denmark.
Italy’s Yemaneberhan Crippa successfully defended his junior men’s title with another dominant performance. Having built up a solid lead during the 5.94km race, Crippa’s win didn’t end up being as clear as his 15-second victory last year but the gap the European junior 5000m bronze medallist created was enough to see him hold on and cross the line in 17:39 ahead of France’s Fabien Palcau with 17:45 and Spain’s El Madhi Lahoufi who was a further second behind.
Britain’s Alex Yee had put himself well in the mix and finishing ninth the 17-year-old triathlete led GB to team bronze. Chris Olley in 17th, Yee’s fellow triathlete Ben Dijkstra in 19th and Mahamed Mahamed in 22nd also contributed to that team medal-winning finish behind France, who got the team gold on home soil ahead of pre-event favourites Italy – 27 points to 29.
“We just knew we’d have to fight for it and I think we wanted it more,” commented Yee on GB’s team bronze. “I think the whole team is over the moon.”
A report on senior race action can be found here.
» Check out the December 17 edition of AW magazine which will include around 16 pages of Euro Cross reports, pictures and results