Under 23 women's final: Outstanding Coulson grabs gold | 09.12.2012
|Jess Coulson of Great Britain celebrates as she
crosses the finish line to win the U23 Women's race
during the 19th SPAR European Cross Country
Championships in Budapest, Hungary. (Photo by
Russia's Liudmila Lebedeva (+9sec) came through to beat France's Clemence Calvin for silver with Russian Gulshat Fazlitdinova in fourth but with the same time as the Frenchwoman (20.52).
"I've run well on the road but not always so well in the mud," said Coulson after her trials win. Well now she can add that she also runs well in freezing snow as the cold weather at Skanzen open air museum did not let up despite a bright sun.
Coulson has been a medallist in the SPAR European Cross Country Championships before, in 2006, when she formed part of the gold medal-winning troupe. But in the trials race last year she could finish no higher than 31st, over two minutes behind the winner.
This winter, though, she has already made a dramatic impact over the country finishing a fine third in Atapuerca, Spain. Injury has blighted her previous seasons, but this year she has enjoyed an unbroken nine months of training and it showed. She was as relentless as the freezing weather.
Ioana Douaga of Romania was the early leader and with three Russians in the top four it was already clear that they would be challenging for team gold, which proved to be the case. Russia won with 27 points to Great Britain's 33 with Germany clinching bronze.
After three minutes of the phony war in the opening stages, Coulson eased into fourth alongside Azerbaijan's Layes Abdullayeva who eventually finished 11th after falling heavily early on.
At 1.6km it was still Douaga making it tough for Coulson with a gap to Calvin with those three seemingly pulling away, but then the field closed up once again for a lead group of 12.
The barn the athletes ran through seemed to provide drama throughout the morning and this time it was no exception as Coulson suddenly started to inject some serious pace as they emerged and turned sharp right. Fazlitdinova responded and Calvin was holding her position in third as Britain's Lauren Howarth came through to present a united front with Coulson.
At just over half-way, Coulson started to stamp her authority on the race and slowly but surely her metronomic pace and bouncy style started to take her clear.
With 1km Coulson had it all sewn up with Calvin and Fazlitdinova battling to hold off a determined Lebedeva to no avail with Howarth also pitching for a medal and ensuring Britain would take team silver.
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