Emelia Gorecka was born only nine months before the first European Cross Country Championships in 1994 - and on Sunday morning in Belgrade she wrote her way into the history of the event.
No woman had regained the junior women’s title, but the Great Britain runner changed all that with a dominant performance to lift the crown she had first worn in Velenje in 2011.
Her win also led the British squad to team gold making it a double celebration for Gorecka who has now won eight medals as a junior at these SPAR European Cross Country Championships.
“It is fantastic,” said Gorecka, moments after crossing the line and hardly looking out of breath. “I am so happy.”
A fortnight after winning the British trials, she delivered another command performance in the Serbian capital, with a slight breeze greeting the 26 nations who took part in this opening event.
Some runners chose to wear tracksuit trousers to compete in, but it was nowhere near as cold as 12 months earlier in the snow of Budapest.
Green grass greeted the athletes and from the start, Gorecka ensured she was in a good position on the inside as Romania’s Dana Elena Loghlin made the early running in the centre of the field alongside Russian Anna Petrova.
In Budapest, Gorecka was beaten by eight seconds into second as Serbia’s Amela Terzic took gold but she reconfirmed her position as one of Europe’s leading endurance adding to her victory in the 3000m at the European Junior Championships in Rieti in July.
With the halfway stage of the 4km race nearing, Slovenia’s Marusa Mismas had made a break with Gorecka just behind her before the Briton then slipped into another gear and took over.
She was never troubled, deviating from a straight line on occasions but always in complete control. She won in 13:06 from Poland’s Sofia Ennaoui in 13:16 with Mismas third in 13:27.
Gorecka’s fellow Britons Georgia Taylor-Brown, fourth in 13:31, Bobby Clay, eighth in 13:40 and Jessica Gibbon, 11th in 13:41, helped ensure the nation won the team event for the ninth occasion in the last ten editions.
They secured a superb 24 points from Sweden with 75, whose first finisher was Maria Larsson in seventh in 13:39, and Germany with 95, who had Aline Reh fifth in 13:34.
But this first event was all about Gorecka, who won her fourth individual medal of these Championships. It is often harder to regain a title but that was never the case for her on Sunday.