Athletics News

Innes FitzGerald reigns supreme at English Schools in Pontefract

Innes FitzGerald reigns supreme at English Schools in Pontefract

Annual cross-country champs sees dominant performance from Devon athlete as Olivia Forrest wins dramatic inter girls title from Shaikira King

Pontefract in has staged top-class horse racing for an incredible 375 years, but rarely has the two-mile long racecourse in West Yorkshire witnessed quite so many thoroughbreds as it did on Saturday (March 16).

A couple of weeks before the flat season kicks off at the venue, hundreds of the nation’s fastest creatures with two legs, as opposed to four, took to the turf for the English Schools Cross Country Championships.

They included Innes FitzGerald, who limbered up for the World Cross Country Championships in Belgrade on March 30 with an emphatic win.

The 17-year-old from Devon successfully defended her senior girls’ title as she beat Eliza Nicholson of London by 49 seconds as 800m specialist Phoebe Gill of Hertfordshire enjoyed a fine run in third.

“It was a really good run,” said FitzGerald, who had won the Inter-Counties title the previous weekend. “I liked the course. With it being the last one, I wanted to defend my title. And before the World Cross I wanted to turn my legs over.”

Innes FitzGerald (David Hewitson)

FitzGerald crossed her hands above her head as she crossed her line in a protest against unnecessary private flights. She is expected to get the train from Devon to Serbia next week for her clash against the best teenage distance runners in the world.

“I was just trying to get some speed in my legs today as you can push yourself more in a race than in training,” she said.

Shaikira King leads as Olivia Forrest chases (David Hewitson)

The most exciting race of the day came at the very beginning with the inter girls’ event. Shaikira King of Leicestershire & Rutland built up what appeared to be a winning lead but entering the final few metres she stumbled and fell, seemingly out of exhaustion, allowing Olivia Forrest to storm through to take victory.

Olivia Forrest (David Hewitson)

Forrest has been unbeaten this winter over the country and said: “I’m really happy although I feel terrible for Shaikira after what happened. I was closing anyway and still wanted to win. I just thought ‘now’s my chance’. I feel really bad for her, though.”

The duo could clash again at next weekend’s SIAB Schools International in Ireland.

Aron Gebremariam (David Hewitson)

Elsewhere Aron Gebremariam, an Eritrean refugee who now represents the West Midlands, repeated his recent Inter-Counties…

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