European Cross Country Champs - Belgrade

Dewi Griffiths Euro XC 2013

(Picture credit: Mark Shearman/British Athletics)

Dewi Griffiths (coach: Kevin Evans) helped Great Britain and Northern Ireland’s under 23 men’s team to a brilliant team gold medal at the European Cross Country Championships in Belgrade.

The Swansea Harrier led the under 23 race after 3,500km of the 8km course before finishing 16th, 22 places higher than at the Europeans in Budapest last year.

Luke Caldwell (Robert Russell) finished sixth, Callum Hawkins (Robert Hawkins) seventh, Jonathan Hay (Woods) 12th and along with Griffiths they ensured GB&NI left with team gold.

Richard Goodman, who won silver at this event in 2011 as an individual, was 21st and Jack Goodwin (Simon Goodwin) finished 33rd at what was his first European Cross Country Championships.

Griffiths said: “I was pleased with that. I had a bit of a head cold so I wasn’t really sure what was going to happen. I was really nervous because of the cold and I wanted to start pretty easy which I did and then I found myself at the front.

“I didn’t really feel like I was pushing it on; I was just at the front at my own pace.

“My cold came on yesterday and I had a bit of a headache but I can’t really complain about that.

“I’m happy; it wasn’t a course that was going to suit me anyway. I ran well in Bristol and that was totally different to this.

“Team gold was all I really wanted. We knew that if two of us had a bad day we had four really good guys to back us up. Callum and Luke had really good runs as well.”

Charlie Hulson Euro XC 2013

(Picture credit: Mark Shearman/British Athletics)

In the men’s senior race Charlie Hulson (Paul Roden) finished a commendable 37th on his senior debut as GB & NI took team bronze by just six points.

Hulson, who still qualifies as an under 23 athlete, said: “I enjoyed it but it was really tough; obviously I only did 6km last year. It was really tough but I enjoyed it more.

“It’s great to win team bronze and I’m just pleased to be on the team.

“I knew I wasn’t going to be fighting for a position I wasn’t going to get so I started out steady and tried to work my way through so I’m pleased with how I did.”

There was a dramatic finish to the final race of the day as Andy Vernon (Nic Bideau) clinched a bronze medal in the final metres of the race.

A relentless pace was set by Alemayehu Bezabeh and Hassan Chahdi but the British athletes moved through the field well and after 4,000m Vernon was sixth with Tom Farrell (Dave Smith) 12th and Keith Gerrard (Art Acevedo) 19th.

Vernon continued to progress steadily and was just five seconds from a podium position going into the last lap, with GB & NI two points adrift of France in the team standings.

Vernon, a two-time under 23 medallist at these championships, rallied to close the gap on third place and won an almighty scrap with Belgium’s Jeroen D’Hoedt down the home straight to snatch the bronze medal by less than a second.

Farrell, who was fourth in the senior men’s race last year, held his position to cross the line in 12th and he was closely followed by Gerrard in 20th and Adam Hickey (Eamonn Martin), who caught a trio of rivals in the last hundred metres to help his teammates to third place.

Frank Tickner (Clive Thomas) was 47th.

You can catch up with all the action from the European Cross Country Championships via the BBC iPlayer for a limited time.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b03ls397/Athletics_2013_European_Cross_Country_Championships/

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