Junior women - Tuna has her day with superb win

Junior women - Tuna has her day with superb win
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Germany's Alina Reh led the junior women's field early on until she was caught by Turkey's Emine Hatun Tuna who took gold ahead of Great Britain's Jessica Judd and Lydia Turner in the opening race on Sunday.

On a cold morning in Bulgaria, and a course half-covered with snow, the SPAR European Cross Country Championships was treated to a brilliant start on Sunday as Turkey's Emine Hatun Tuna finally won a gold medal.

The 19-year-old made the most of her last appearance at this level of the championships to sit behind Germany's Alina Reh and then hold off the challenge of Great Britain's Jessica Judd to earn a fine success.

Tuna, the European junior 3000m silver medallist from Rieti in 2013, was ninth in this race last year as Emelia Gorecka won gold for Britain.

Judd, 19, was looking to repeat that success but she still ended up with a gold medal as Great Britain's women took the team prize.

The conditions are always tricky, it is one of the major challenges of this event, on an undulating course where the first race can always be the toughest because of the crispness of the track.

As Ireland's Sarah Fitzpatrick discovered as she slipped early on in an event that was run over 3.8km.

Up front Germany's Reh, who was fifth last year and second in the 3000m in the summer at the 2nd Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, made a good early start and after the first lap she led from France's Cassandre Beaugrand and Tuna.

But after the first three short laps, the athletes then moved on to two long laps and it was there that the race became an initial duel between Reh and Tuna.

Judd, who was seventh in the 800m final at the European Athletics Championships in Zurich in the summer, was slowly narrowing the gap and as the race reached the bell she had joined Tuna in the lead.

But with her experience over the longer distance, Tuna was always in command as Judd looked to take her on. With 500m left, Tuna stretched away and she was in total control.

No wonder Tuna was delighted with her success and she said: "I am so happy to be champion here. It is my first gold medal. The course was difficult but well prepared. My coach told me how to run and I had a perfect strategy. I am so happy with my victory."

She clearly has a big future and this victory will set her up in style as she won in 14:13 from Judd in 14:18 with her British teammate Lydia Turner third in 14:25 ahead of Reh, fourth in 14:34.

Judd said: "I am (delighted) – I’m always disappointed when it’s not first, but I think in a couple of hours, I’ll be over the moon. Tactically I misjudged it a little and went probably a bit too hard on the long lap. I doubted myself for the first time this year – I think if it was just the British girls, I would have had the confidence to sit back and let in unfold, but I didn’t even know half the people in that race."

"There was a lot of snow and it made the course difficult. Still I am happy with my first medal," Turner added.

Britain, who had Amy Griffiths fifth in 14:38 and Rebecca Straw in eight in 14:48, won the team event with 18 points from France with 64 and Germany with 74.

Cassandre Baeaugrande and her French teammates are clearly delighted with their team silver medals!