Carton puts seal on her brilliant winter

Carton puts seal on her brilliant winter
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Louise Carton ran a brilliant race for gold to bring Belgium it's only medal of the Championships.

Louise Carton proved the form book to be right at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships today.

The Belgium has been prolific throughout this winter with her successes leading up to this main event and how she delivered.

It was close, it meant tactics had to be used to the fore, but Carton ensured she had just enough left to hold off the challenge of the Netherland's Jip Vastenburg, with both women given the same time of 19:46.

And after winning silver last year, Great Britain’s women celebrated team gold this time.

"It is amazing," said Carton. "I knew I was strong but the other girls are too and I did not know how they were going to run.

"I felt good. I always stress before a race but thanks to the experience, I know how to use it positively.

"During the race, I wanted to take the lead and extend the gap because I felt controlled."

It did not go quite as she would have planned throughout the whole race, where from early on it became a clash of four chasing the three medals.

Serbia’s Amela Terzic was leading from Britain’s Laura Muir, Vastenburg and Carton, all women who had superb summers.

At the European Athletics U23 Championships in Tallinn, Terzic won the 1500m, Vastenburg took the 10,000m and Carton won 5000m silver, while Muir was fifth in the 1500m at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing.

It meant for a great competition.

There was nothing between them for long periods until in the final stages, as they left the third long loop in the forest, the hardest part of the course because of the pine needles underfoot, Carton had the beating of the rest.

Her success this winter in the LottoCup stood her in good stead, as she made her move, with Vastenburg closing.

But Carton had enough to secure the biggest win of her career with Terzic (19:49) in third and Muir (19:53) in fourth.

Vastenburg said: "I am really happy as this is my first top-10 finish. I focussed on the course and not my competitors and it helped. In the end, I had more strength than I expected."

Such was the power of this quartet that the next runner was 12 seconds behind with Belarusian Viktoria Kushnir in fifth.

But those then coming through included three Britons, with Madeleine Murray (20:15) in 10th, Jenny Nesbitt (20:23) in 13th and Rebecca Murray (20:24) in 14th.

Along with Muir, they scored 41 points - with top four finishers counting - to take team gold from France, led by Emma Oudiou in eighth (20:14), with 71 and Italy, with Federica Del Buono their best finisher in seventh (20:12), with 82.