Klosterhalfen keeps hold of crown in style

Klosterhalfen keeps hold of crown in style
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Germany's Konstanze Klosterhalfen successfully retained her under-20 title at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Chia.

Germany's Konstanze Klosterhalfen today became only the second woman to retain the women's junior title as she gave the SPAR European Cross Country Championships a stunning start in Chia.

A year on from her glory in Hyères, Klosterhalfen matched the feats of Great Britain's Steph Twell in 2006 and 2007 with a commanding, brilliant performance on a sunny morning in Sardinia.

Klosterhalfen truly was in a class of her own as she won the under-20 race in 12:26 with Denmark's outstanding youngster Anna Emelie Moller in second in 12:43 and Great Britain's Harriet Knowles-Jones, last year's silver medallist, taking bronze in 12:52, a second ahead of German Alina Reh.

And along with her bronze, there was gold too for Knowles-Jones who led Britain to the team title with 33 points from Germany with 56.5 and the Netherlands with 71.

“I wanted to run my own race and wanted to stay clear of opponents until the finish line,” said Klosterhalfen.

“I had to push myself a bit in the last lap but I am glad I managed it well. It was more difficult for my head than for my body as I wanted to finish the season as good as possible. That is why it was more difficult to defend the title this year

“Comparing to last year, the track had more difficulties in France but the surface here is faster. But I really liked it as I feel fast.”

Moller said: "I think it was a bit too fast. I knew that Konstanze was going to be strong but I was self-confident and was aiming for gold. I was just following my body and my feelings but I know I still have some power spared. Silver is okay but I was really catching the top of the podium.”

It has been some year for 19-year-old Klosterhalfen as she bows out of the junior scene, also winning bronze on the track in the 3000m at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Bydgoszcz.

And from the start today, she was in total control.

Klosterhalfen quickly took the lead and she was never passed, skipping her away over the mounds on the course and climbing the hills with consummate ease.

The women's under-20 race over 4.15km consisted of two short laps of 500km and two long of 1500km either side of the start and finish and Klosterhalfen once more showed what a prospect she is for the future on the senior stage.

In Hyères, it was close, as Knowles-Jones was just four seconds behind her but this time it was an emphatic triumph for the German who received the ultimate praise by BBC commentator Steve Cram who was watching the championships with Paula Radcliffe.

“She is reminiscent of your stature at that age,” said Cram during commentary with the marathon world record-holder.

Tall and packed with speed endurance, Klosterhalfen was never troubled, as she went through 1090m in 3:23 and 2560m in 7:50 and moved onto the turf carpet at the finish to cross the line with a big smile.

Moller will be equally delighted with her silver in a memorable year for her too - with her national record-breaking success in the 3000m steeplechase at the Olympics.

Knowles-Jones' consistency saw her hang on for bronze and celebrate team gold as Britain won this title. She was backed up by fine performances from Amelia Quirk in ninth (13:12), Victoria Weir in 10th (13:16) and Gemma Holloway in 11th (13:23), with Jasmijn Lau spearheading the Netherlands to team bronze as she finished fifth in 12:57.

“I am so proud of my team and I felt an extra responsibility for this result with my experiences,” said Knowles-Jones.

“The pace of the race was really good. It was a tough race with very strong opponents.”