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Gold Rush For Welsh Awesome Foursome As They Help GB Triumph In Portugal

By Owen Morgan

Welsh athletes helped Great Britain to a huge haul of five team gold medals and a bronze at the European Cross Country Championships in Portugal on Sunday.

Charlotte Arter, Jenny Nesbitt and Kris Jones all won senior team golds, while Matt Willis also struck gold in the men’s under-20 race. Bronwen Owen and Cari Hughes were part of the bronze medal winning women’s under-23 team.

In the senior women’s race, Arter was pushing for an individual medal early on but eventually settled for seventh place overall as GB clinched team gold over a hugely demanding course in Lisbon where Turkey’s Yasemin Can won individual gold.

The Cardiff athlete, who was the second British finisher behind Jess Judd, said: “That was definitely the toughest cross country course I have ever raced on.

“I actually felt really good on the first couple of laps but I really felt it on the last two laps.

“I could see Jess just ahead of me, and I had two athletes close behind me, so I launched myself up the last hill and on the way down, so I’m really happy I could finish highly. I’m really proud of the girls to win the team gold.”

Clubmate Nesbitt followed Arter home in 29th place overall. The Welsh cross country champion said: “That was tougher than the world cross course. I really struggled out there today. I found it really challenging and tried to do the best I could.”

GB were also victorious in the senior men’s race where Swansea Harrier Jones finished 22nd overall to help secure the team gold. Sweden’s Robel Fsiha took individual gold.


The versatile Jones, who is also a world class orienteer, was another to find the undulating course a real challenge.

“It was absolutely brutal,” said Jones. “There were a few of us who were really struggling in a group.

“This was completely different to Tilburg, the hills were unrelenting. I don’t think I ran as well today but I gave it everything in the last 400m down the hill.”

Wrexham AC’s Willis produced an excellent individual run to finish ninth behind four-time European Champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen after having led the race at the halfway point.

His performance was enough to help the GB team to what was their first team gold of the day.

Willis said: “I’m really happy that the team has come away with gold. This is the third time I have competed at these championships.

“We didn’t get a medal the first time, we were second last year, so to finish my junior career with a team gold is great, and I’m really happy for everyone on the team.

“Ninth, I’m happy with. I think coming into the race I would have wanted better than that but I don’t think I can complain about top ten in Europe.

“I think on the first corner I was about last and then by the middle of the second lap I managed to get myself in the lead. I moved up a little quicker than I anticipated and that probably took a little bit too much out of my legs coming towards the end.”


In the U23 women’s race, GB claimed bronze behind the Netherlands and Ireland. Former Welsh Champion Owen was the highest finisher for the team.

The Leeds City athlete picked off the field over the six-kilometre course to earn a valuable top ten finish that contributed heavily to the team bronze medal. Hughes, who has been recovering from a long term injury, failed to finish.

Owen said: “It was just relentless; it was such a fast race from the get-go. It was so savage going up the hills but I know I’m strong on the downhills so I was trying to use that to my advantage.

“But there was no chance for recovery as we were straight up the hills again. It was quite a hard course to feel good on.

“To get on the podium was the main aim. We were not sure as individuals what was a good result as there are some top athletes here but a team medal is fantastic.”

GB also won team golds in the women’s under-20 race and the mixed relay to top the medal table on the day.

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