Jip Vastenburg showed what a talent she is by winning 10,000m gold at the European Athletics U23 Championships in Tallinn last summer, and on Sunday she almost produced a historic victory on the roads of home.
Not since 1990 and Carla Beurskens had a Dutchwoman won the Zevenheuvelenloop and Vastenburg could not have come closer in the 32nd staging of this Seven Hills race over 15km.
After 50 minutes of running, the race came down to a sprint finish between Vastenburg and Ethiopia’s Yenenesh Tilahun and what a finale it was for the crowd in Nijmegen.
In the end, Tilahun just edged it, with both women being given the same time of 50:05 ahead Yomogi Akasaka, of Japan, who was third (51:03).
Whether Vastenburg will be part of the Dutch team for the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Hyères on 13 December remains to be seen, but she is fast becoming another of the leading athletics stars in her country.
Having won gold over 5000m (16:03.31) at the European Athletics Junior Championships in Rieti 2013, Vastenburg, 21, moved up a distance for this summer’s European Athletics U23 Championships in Estonia where she produced a prolific performance to triumph (32:18.69) from Great Britain’s Rhona Auckland (32:22.79) and Alice Wright (32:46.57).
Infact, it was quite a summer for Vastenburg who finished fourth on the European Athletics rankings with her 10,000m time of 31:35.48 from Stanford in May.
It sets her up well for next year’s European Athletics Championships in Amsterdam where she will be among the major contenders for a medal.
The best Dutch finisher in the men’s race on Sunday was Abdi Nageeye in sixth (44:17) as Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei triumphed.
A minute's silence was held before the race in memory of the victims of the Paris terrorist attack.