Strong running and good depth took England to the bronze medal at the Trofeo Opitergium for the combined team competition in a highly competitive event in Oderzo, Italy. Both races were run in sweltering 27 degree sunshine. The athletes demonstrated great professionalism to cope well with the temperature and maximised use of ice packs and shade to keep themselves cool prior to the start.
The men ran as a pack for much of the 9 lap race with Jamie Richardson (club: West Cheshire) just drifting off the group around halfway. Strong performances by Sam Burkitt (club: Ipswich/ Birmingham Uni, coach: Jethro McGraw), Ethan Primett (club: Herts Phoenix, coach: Andrew Hobdell) and Joe O’Connell (club: Aldershot, Farnham & District/ Durham Uni, coach: Mick Woods) to finish with 17 seconds of each other ensured the team finished in fifth place only 27 seconds behind the bronze medal.
The women’s race was highly competitive with Rebecca Flaherty (club: Bingley) and Libby Huxley (club: Preston, coach: Andy Bibby) staying with the leading pack for the first half of the race. They were closely supported by Lily Neate (club: Winchester, coach: Nick Anderson) and Faye O'’h'Hare (club: Liverpool Harriers, coach: Anthony Clarke). The hard work and commitment alongside the depth in the England team was rewarded with a Bronze medal in the closely contested Women’s competition with just 17 seconds splitting the gold medal team from the England Women.
Team Leader Jo Wilkinson said:
"Most of the team were competing in their first international competition and displayed exceptional maturity and professionalism to run strong races in challenging hot conditions."
"In particular, the Junior men to step up to 10k - especially Ethan and Jamie who made their debuts over this distance. Alongside the experience of Sam and Joe who executed good races to finish well. Their closely matched individual results ensured the team finished high in the rankings."
In fact three of the men ran a new road 10k PB and Rebecca Flaherty ran a new road 5k PB.
Jo continued, "The women were outstanding in their commitment. Especially Rebecca and Libby who ran with confidence in the leading pack for much of the race. They were supported strongly by Lily and Faye who pushed hard to keep in touch to ensure the team finished with the well deserved bronze medal."
"To finish third overall in the combined competition was a very just reward for the whole team.”
- 11th: Sam Burkitt 31:10
- 12th: Ethan Primett 31:17 PB
- 13th: Joe O’Connell 31:27 PB
- 16th: Jamie Richardson 31:46 PB
1st: France 1:32:38
2nd: Spain 1:33:23
3rd: Italy 1:33:27
4th: Romania 1:33:30
5th: England 1:33:54 (27 seconds off bronze medal)
- 5th: Rebecca Flaherty 17:01 PB
- 6th: Libby Huxley 17:03
- 15th: Lily Neate 17:26
- 20th: Faye O’Hare 17:38
1st: Italy 51:13
2nd: Sweden 51:23
3rd: England 51:30 (17 seconds off gold medal)
5th: France 51:59
Combined Team Results
1st: France 2:24:37
2nd: Italy 2:24:40
3rd: England 2:25:24