Stroud and District AC starlet Tom Mortimer has won automatic selection for the Great Britain U20 cross country team for the European Championships to be held in the Dutch city of Tilburg this Sunday.
Mortimer booked his place by finishing in the first five runners home at the trial race at Sefton Park, Liverpool.
Mortimer, the UK U20 cross country champion, had been setback by injuries for three months and only returned to training in Loughborough, where he is at University, three weeks before the trial.
Never lacking confidence, Mortimer went hard from the gun and stretched the field out and nearly got away on the first of two laps and only seven runners were able to keep in touch.
At the start of the second lap, the lead group, knowing Tom’s predicament, and sensing he was slowing, led by Jake Hayward, the British record holder for the 3000m and a three-minute and 36 seconds 1500m runner – led a major effort, which Mortimer could not match but he did not panic even when facing a 20 second gap to the sixth- place runner with just over a mile to the finish.
Coach Chris Brown said: “After the lack of preparation Tom finishing seventh in the GB trial would have been a good return.
“I felt that the other runners could not maintain the pace and although tired Tom was still running strongly and I encouraged him not to give up the chase, he then powered up the long winding hill climb closing the gap all the time, then on the final descend he moved into fifth, turning into the uphill home straight he caught the third and fourth-placed runners with 100m to go and from somewhere he found a sprint finish to go clear to finish third. Although this hard race will have benefited him it is unfortunate that the European Championships does allow Tom to get a block of training in and for him to be contending European medals.”