Jess Sparke 7th in Edinburgh

Jess Sparke finished a marvellous 7th in the Women's Bupa Great Edinburgh International Cross event (televised live on BBC1) today. Looking confident after her bronze in the European U23 Championship in Dublin in mid-December, Jess spent much of the race in the lead group that included World CC champion Tirunesh Dibaba, World 5,000m champion Vivian Cheruiyot, European CC champion Hayley Yelling and Olympian Steph Twell. She was finally broken with around 1 mile of the 5.8K remaining, but hung on well enough to finish around 10 seconds behind Yelling and Twell as Dibaba was a clear winner.

Amongst the athletes Jess beat were Freya Murray, who was 9th in the European senior CC championship, and World 1500m silver medallist Lisa Dobriskey.

Lee Valley Indoor Results

WGwEL athletes were in indoor action at Lee Valley on Sunday. Callum Priestley took an early lead at the top of the UK 60m Hurdles rankings as he recorded 7.90 ssecs, with Dan Davis clocking 8.10 secs. Over 60m flat, Colin Wilson opened his season with a useful 6.89 secs, with Dan Davis again in action with 7.05 secs, and Jason Greenidge recording 7.17 secs. In the women's event, Azaria Francis was close to her best with 7.67 secs.

Early indoor news

A number of WGwEL athletes have been in early indoor season action over the last three weeks. Perhaps the highest quality performances came in the Pole Vault in which, at Bath, Maria Seager cleared 3.96m to win the open competition, and at Loughborough, where Alasdair Strange cleared 4.96m to place 3rd. There were also some encouraging performances elsewhere.

Jessica Sparke bronze at European CC

Jessica Sparke won an impressive bronze medal at the European Cross-Country Championships in Dublin.

From the UKA website:

The women’s under 23 team, who looked strong on paper coming into the championships, translated that expectation into a team gold medal on the muddy course in the Irish capital, with all six girls through the tape in the top 20 and four in the top ten.

The win was a distant dream for those who chased eventual gold medal winner Sultan Haydar of Turkey, who got an early lead and held onto it with impressive form, but second and third place were very much up for grabs and it was Jessica Sparke (Woodford Green & Essex Ladies) who took full advantage, powering home to take individual bronze.

Sparke said “I’m so happy and so pleased. I just aimed to go off and be in the first group and work my way through. I was hoping I would get an individual medal but the aim was to just be as high up as possible. It didn’t seem that quick, I had a cold at the beginning of the week and I wasn’t able to train but I don’t think it was a bad thing because I felt quite fresh. It was amazing to be on the podium, I’ve always wanted that! I’m so pleased.”

Sparke was followed in quick succession by Charlotte Browning (AFD) and Hollie Rowland (City of Norwich) in fourth and fifth place respectively, with Stevie Stockton (Vale Royal AC), the fourth scoring athlete, in 10th and three times junior women’s champion Stephanie Twell (AFD) in eleventh place.

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