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International Podium finish for Emily!

Emily Williams saved the best for last with a stunning performance to finish on the podium in the British Schools International at the magnificent surroundings of Margam Country park in Port Talbot, South Wales. Competing for England for the second time against the very best athletes in the UK representing combined Ireland, Scotland & Wales, Emily saved her best performance of the year for when it really mattered finishing in a magnificent third place to secure a Bronze medal and in doing so helping England secure a team Gold.

Emily Williams delighted with her individual Bronze & team Gold medals

The scene was set on a pleasantly warm spring day with a challenging course set in front of the magnificent Margam Castle, and with conditions in the main firm with a brisk wind, race conditions were good. The intermediate girls race was run over the slightly longer distance of 4600m, and featured the top 8 athletes from England from the previous weeks English Schools final which saw Emily finish in 7th place, and the corresponding top 8 athletes from the other home nation's championships.

Magnificent setting of Margam Castle for the British Schools International

Emily got her customary good start using her 800m pace and after the first 1.6km loop she settled into a leading pack which consisted of 7 of the 8 English athletes with just one athlete from Ireland, Sarah Healey. As the race progressed the unbeaten English athlete, Olivia Mason, who has won all 3 National championships the year, pushed the pace on with top year English athlete Claudia Lance-Jones and they opened a small gap on Williams who was running a strong race with England’s Charlotte Alexander, both athletes pushing each other with individual medals up for grabs.

Emily settles in the race after a fast start.

With 1km left it was still close, with Mason & Lance-Jones continuing to push hard to try and consolidate their Gold/Silver medals position, and Alexander forcing a 3m gap on Williams with the fast-downhill section before it doubled back with a tough uphill finish. Williams was buoyed by her determination to not repeat the experience of a year ago as a top year Junior when she finished just out of the medals in 4th place, and she put in a terrific effort on the tight turn leading to the uphill section to open daylight between her and 4th place Alexander.

Emily opens up a gap on 4th place Charlotte Alexander with 300m to go

Williams continued to work hard on the uphill section opening an impressive gap on Alexander before the final turn to the downhill finishing straight and was closing the leading pair all the way to the finish line with a magnificent effort clinching the Bronze medal just 2 seconds behind second place Lance-Jones, and just 9 behind Mason.

Punching the air with delight Williams was overjoyed to finish on the podium, comfortably ahead of some the girls who had finished in front of her just a week ago, and with England taking the top 5 places a team Gold was assured. Her first International podium finish was just reward for a terrific season over the country and she produced her best performance for when it mattered most.

Superb finish for Emily closing down 2nd place Claudia Lance-Jones to just 2 seconds

Emily was delighted with her run, "On the final uphill section I thought I didn't want to miss out on a medal and finish in 4th place like last year, so I put in a determined effort to break away from Charlotte Alexander and I managed to open up a gap", she added "I'm so happy to have won a Bronze medal and to be so close to the first two girls". Emily now takes a short break before commencing her track season later in April.

Coach Shane Smith was equally delighted “Emily produced her strongest run of the season to secure her first podium finish at International level and still has another year in the age group”. He added, “I was particularly pleased she finished ahead of 4 of the girls who were ahead of her at English Schools, and this is a great boost for her before she commences her Track Season”.

Well done to Emily on her second appearance representing her country, the whole club are rightly proud of this outstanding achievement.