Britton leads Team Europe to glory at Bupa Great Edinburgh Cross Country | 05.01.2013
|Team Europe triumphant after winning the Bupa Great Edinburgh Cross
Country event ahead of Team GB and Team USA on Saturday.
But it was so close that the result was not decided until the final race when Ireland's Fionnuala Britton, the team captain, won the women's 6km at Holyrood Park, the venue of the 2003 SPAR European Cross Country Championships.
Britton said: "We had a team meeting last night and I really wanted to win but I wanted to put the pressure on the men because they are before us. I know we were not in first place going into it, but we did it."
This is the story of a superb afternoon of athletics:
Junior Men's 6km
Croatia's Dino Bosnjak gave Team Europe, sponsored by Spanish clothing manufacturer Joma, an outstanding start in their bid to win this international match.
Bosnjak, who celebrates his 19th birthday later this month, could not have asked for a better way to begin 2013 as he came storming through to take victory.
The initial pace had been set by Estevan De La Rosa, last year's USA national junior cross-country champion, and the leading member of his team.
He was doing his best to break the field but Team Europe had so much strength in depth that that was never likely to happen.
Bosnjak, who was eighth in Budapest at the end of last month in the junior men's race at the European Cross Country Championships, was joined by Belgium's Isaac Kimeli, Johannes Motschmann, of Germany, France's Alexandre Saddedine, Denmark's Mikkel Dahl-Jessen and Russian Mikhail Strelkov.
But despite the pace being forged by De La Rossa, Britain's Jonathan Davies was always in there looking to make an impact.
Kimeli then took over and it seemed like victory would be his but Bosnjak came through to triumph in 19:01 from his European teammate, who was second in 19:02, with American Craig Novak third in 19:03.
TEAM SCORE AFTER ONE EVENT
1. Team Europe 16
2. Team USA 29
3. Team GB 34.
Junior Women's 4km
Team Europe knew they would have a tough task in this race because Great Britain are such a dominant force at this level, led by the brilliant Emelia Gorecka.
Gorecka, 18, lived up to her pre-race expectation as she won in 13:46 to increase her growing reputation which has already brought her three gold medals at the European Cross Country Championships.
She was individual champion in 2011 in Velenje, and was second last month in Budapest as Britain's women retained their crown.
It was no surprise then that British women took the first six places with Jessica Judd second in 13:59 and Rebecca Weston third in 14:01.
With American Emily Stites seventh in 14:08, the first European was Finland's Oona Kettunen, who was eighth in 14:11.
Gorecka said: "It was a very young team, which is a great prospect for the future. It is a fantastic course, and I love the different terrains around here. It is a great set-up to start 2013.
"The main aim will be to challenge the Africans which I had a taste of at the World Junior Championships in Barcelona and I would love to go out there and see what I can do.”
1. Team GB 10
2. Team Europe 38
3. Team USA 48
TOTAL SCORE AFTER TWO EVENTS
1. Team GB 44.
2. Team Europe 54
2. Team USA 77
Senior Men's 8km
Having lost the lead in the overall competition, now, in the third race of the event, there was a good chance for Team Europe to establish first position again, with Spain's Ayad Lamdassem and Sergiy Lebid, the nine-times European Cross Champion, at the head of the field.
But one man had memories of 12 ago and that was the America’s team captain Bobby Mack.
In 2011, Mack was beaten into the second place by Lamdassem and he was determined that was not going to happen again, but the whole field was left surprised by a brilliant run from Britain's Tom
Humphries, who is on his way back from injury and illness and was 17th at the European Cross Country Championships in Budapest.
Humphries decided to go it alone and by the second of the four laps, he was in charge.
The group behind him were dwindling but not to the extent of losing the likes of Lamdassem, Lebid or Mack.
Yet, as the bell went, there looked no let up in the speed of Humphries on a course which had a small log barrier to climb.
He took that with no trouble but on the final downhill slope, the pack, full of such experience, came closing in and Lamdassem seized his chance.
Twice a silver medallist at the European Championships and sixth last month, victory looked his as he charged to the line.
But with 30m left, Mack narrowed the gap and 12 months on, he reversed the positions to triumph in 24:27 from Lamdassem in 24:28 with Andy Vernon third in 24:29.
Humphries was fourth in 24:32 with Lebid fifth in in the same time.
Mack said: "Last year I got caught off guard and this year I made sure I was ready to finish with the leaders. Coming around the last quarter, he (Lamdassem) moved about the same spot as he moved last year. I thought here comes a replay from then but I was able to finish hard."
Lamdassem said: "I am very happy with second because this year there were a lot of good athletes. I expected to win when I broke free but the American's finish was too strong."
But he did reveal one of his next moves. "I hope to run the Rotterdam marathon this year," added Lamdassem.
1. Team USA 49
2. Team Europe 65
3. Team GB 67
TOTAL SCORE AFTER THREE EVENTS
1. Team GB 111.
2. Team Europe 119
2. Team USA 126
And so it came down to Europe's leading cross country runner to deliver the result that brought victory.
A month ago, Britton retained her European Cross Country crown with victory in Budapest and by achieving a similar result here, the Irish star brought glory for the team.
Britton could even afford a slip on the final lap she was in such control.
“It’s never easy when you have to lead from the beginning but I knew that I couldn’t just sit there and I think everybody was just sitting there waiting for somebody to do something," said Britton.
She was in such control that she quickly picked herself up and with a wry smile on her face, she came home to win easily and was never really challenged throughout, using her economical style to maintain a steady pace and achieve her aim of leading Team Europe to glory.
“I fell on my chin in a race before but I fell on my backside this time. Never in a live televised race. Even though I’m known as a cross country specialist, track and field is where it’s really at like and for me it’s not really worked out yet, but it’s everyone in athletics’ aim as well. I really enjoy cross country but the track is where it’s at."
For a spell Jess Coulson, of Britain, tried to stay with Britton but it was to no avail.
Britton won in 20:40 from Adrienne Herzog of the Netherlands in 20:56 with American team captain Mattie Suver third in 21:00.
Herzog said, “It was really hard, I’m happy to come second. I was 13th in the European’s so it’s cool to finish in front of some of the girls that beat me there, but it was really hard. I want to win the European Cross Country this year and I want to be in Moscow in the world championships for the 10k.”
Coulson was fourth in 21:05 but importantly for Team Europe, Portugal's Ana Dulce Felix was fifth in 21:06, the same time as Linda Byrne which helped towards the final team points.
Britton said: "When I knew the group behind me was breaking down, I thought there is no point letting them get back to me. It's a great result for Europe.”
1. Team Europe 35
2. Team GB 64
3. Team USA 75
1. Team Europe 154.
2. Team GB 175
2. Team USA 201
***In the Invitational Women’s 3km at Edinburgh, Genzebe Dibaba won in 9:46 from Ethiopian teammate Meseret Defar, the Olympics 5000m champion, in 9:51 with Linet Masai, of Kenya, third in 9:55.