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It's a snowy run in the Park for race ace Rhys

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: January 24, 2013

  • at his best: Alex George

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RHYS Park was the highest placed Cheltenham athlete at the latest round of the UK Cross Country Challenge Series in Cardiff Park.

He finished seventh in the Under-20s race, following up his ninth place at the previous weekend's Birmingham league meeting.

Park's training partner Dave Roper had a tough field to contend with as the senior race included the Celtic International match, an England team and an inter-area match.

Roper was pleased to finish 21st to show further good form after his fourth place in the Birmingham League last weekend.

In the senior women's race Beth Hawling finished 40th, while Beth Wynn placed 19th in the Under-20 women's event.

Dmitry Nazarenko finished 18th in the Under-17 boy's race, Michael Horrocks came home 31st in the Under-15 boys event and Freya Lane finshed 21st in the Under-13 girl's race.

Alex George produced the best cross country performance of his career with a superb second place at the same event.

Competing against some of the best athletes in the country 16-year-old Gloucester AC runner from Abbeymead glided over the icy, snow-bound conditions in Blackweir Fields to easily eclipse his previous best in the series of sixth in Bristol last October.

"Without doubt that was definitely my best performance in cross country so far," said George.

"It hurt, really hurt but it was worth it to finish second here against a really good field."

Swansea favourite Jac Hopkins, who is unbeaten this winter on the country, dominated from the gun but George showed great determination to never give up the chase.

Liverpool's Daniel Jarvis, top Scot Euan Gillham and another Welsh favourite Christian Lovatt kept George company in the opening stages of the race before the Gloucester man started to ease his way clear of the pack.

"Christian Lovatt caught me towards the end but I surged again and managed to open ten metres on him," added George.

"I then heard Dave Newport (a coach from Cheltenham) shout 'Go!' at me so I just sprinted for all I was worth. I finished very strong which is very pleasing and I really committed myself.

"I have not always done that in the past but it worked today and that has given me a lot of confidence."

George, who along with twin brother Thomas is coached by Kerry Newell at Gloucester, also reflected on the progress that he has made in the past twelve months.

"Last year in Cardiff I was delighted to make the top ten in the same race (he finished eighth) and now I am in the top five," added George.

"I have come a long way and hopefully I can win a race here one day."

McCain Cross Challenge, Blackweir Fields, Cardiff (selected county results) – senior men: 21 Dave Roper (Chelt) 36:18; 31 Rob Galt (Stroud) 37:23.

U-20s men: 7 Rhys Park (Chelt) 24:54; 19 Thomas George (Glos Schools) 26:11.

U-17s men: 1 Jack Hopkins (Swans) 18:44; 2 Alex George (Glos) 19:04; 3 Christian Lovatt (Dyfed Schs) 19:11; 18 Dmitry Nazarenko (GS) 20:20; 23 Matt Crew (GS) 20:42.

U-15s boys: 3 Jack Turner (Stroud) 16:42; 12 Joseph Speak (GS) 18:14; 31 Michael Horrocks (GS) 19:49; 33 James Percy (GS) 19:59.

U-13s boys: 41 Simon Crew (GS) 13:22.

U-20s women: 11 Lillie Bellamy (GS) 20:26; 19 Elizabeth Wynn (Chelt) 21:19.

U-13s girls: 10 Abgail Robson (GS) 13:20; 21 Freya Lane (Chelt) 14:25;

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