Athletics News

Chebet reigns supreme as GB captain Donnelly leads by example

Chebet reigns supreme as GB captain Donnelly leads by example

Britain’s Abbie Donnelly finishes a fine 20th in a World Cross senior women’s race won by Beatrice Chebet of Kenya for the second time

Abbie Donnelly is establishing herself as one of most popular and inspirational members of the GB cross-country team. After winning bronze at the European Championships in Brussels in December, she finished an admirable 20th in Belgrade on Saturday (March 30).

Up ahead, Beatrice Chebet of Kenya successfully defended her title while European champion Karoline Bjerkeli Grøvdal of Norway was 14th and just 28 seconds ahead of the Brit, after having been twice as far ahead in Brussels.

Not only is Donnelly producing the goods in her races, but off the track she is self-effacing and self-deprecating. Moments after she’d spoken to AW post-race, for example, her team-mate Alice Goodall revealed Donnelly had made her colleagues in the senior women’s race a ‘team GB’ bracelet. Later, Calum Johnson admitted Donnelly’s words during her Friday night team speech had helped him compose himself on the start line in the men’s race.

Donnelly did not find it easy in Belgrade, though. “It’s such a hard run to judge,” the 27-year-old said. “My mouth was really dry. When trying to breathe you can’t swallow very well. You feel like you’re suffocating but you’re trying to relax, so it’s all about trying to manage that. The Brits aren’t used to this kind of weather at this kind of year either.”

As Chebet battled Lilian Rengeruk and Margaret Chelimo Kipkemboi for the win in 31:05, Donnelly remained in the zone, running her own race and eating up the ground with her long raking stride before finishing with a flourish to get 20th place. Her dream goal was a top 15 spot but she remained happy with 20th as it was four places higher than the World Cross in Bathurst 12 months earlier.

Behind, Lauren McNeil and Goodall were 45th and 46th.

Lauren Heyes and Niamh Brown did not finish, however. It was a painful exit for Heyes as she has a long history with the World Cross and was a late replacement for Jess Warner-Judd. “I ultimately set off too fast in the heat and paid the price,” Heyes said, while Brown is understood to have suffered similarly in conditions that saw the temperature gauge rise to 27C although it felt even hotter in the sun.

Beatrice Chebet (Getty)

Elsewhere in the race, Weini Kelati of the United States was a few seconds behind Grøvdal,…

CLICK HERE to Read the Full Original Article at AW…