Under-23 women - Glory girl Auckland shows there is no business like snow business

Under-23 women - Glory girl Auckland shows there is no business like snow business
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Great Britain's Rhona Auckland defied the odds to take under-23 gold with a sensational run in Samokov on Sunday.

When Scotland's Rhona Auckland woke up in Bulgaria on Sunday morning, the weather was just as she had hoped because there was snow on the course. By lunchtime, the outcome at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships was the stuff of dreams as she produced the performance of her life to win gold.

A year ago in Belgrade, Auckland was seventh but this time she moved in front on the final lap to soar away to win in 22:23 on a glorious day for the hosts as Bulgaria's Militsa Mircheva came storming through to take silver in 22:25 with Russia's Gulshat Fazlitdinova third in 22:28.

Auckland, 21, is from Aberdeen, so she knows all about snow.

As she told heraldscotland.com before the race: "I grew up in a wee village and a lot of my younger winter training days were in snow. I remember once my mum said 'You are not going out in trainers, you will slip'. So I went and did a session in a pair of walking boots."

All those years of training came to fruition as she held her footing in her spikes to land a fine win in a race where she also ended up with a team silver as Great Britain finished with 37 points as Russia took gold with 32 and Turkey winning bronze with 95.

Auckland could not get that smile off her face after that gold medal run.

As she celebrated victory, Auckland told British Athletics: "I am absolutely delighted – I knew my strength was in the endurance side of things as I haven’t got the fastest start.

"The course was challenging enough to hold back and work my way through and I am glad I did that. It was really inspiring on the start line as we heard the junior girls on the podium with the national anthem so it was great to keep that going."

Mircheva was surprised by her success and she thanked the home crowd for helping her to silver.

"I did not expect a medal and I am really happy," said Mircheva. "I have worked really hard for this competition and I am so grateful for the support that I received from the spectators."

Fazlitdinova said: "I am so satisfied with my medal. It is good to be on the podium. I kept good a tempo until the last lap."

Amela Terzic, of Serbia, who was second in this race last year, finished 10th in 23:04 while Britain's triple junior SPAR European Cross Country champion Emelia Gorecka was 12th in 23:10 on her debut at this under-23 race.