Tom Mortimer won automatic selection for the Great Britain U20 Men cross country team for the European Championships to be held in the Dutch city of Tilburg on Sunday 9th December by finishing in the first five runners home at the trial race at Sefton Park, Liverpool. Tom, the UK U20 cross country champion, had been set back by injury side-lining him for 3 months only returning to training in Loughborough where he is at University 3 weeks before the trial.
Never lacking confidence Tom went hard from the gun and stretched the field out and nearly got away on the first of 2 laps only 7 runners were able to keep in touch. At the start of the 2nd lap the lead group knowing Tom’s predicament and sensing he was slowing led by Jake Hayward the British record holder for the 3000m and a 3min 36s 1500m runner led a major effort which Mortimer could not match but he maturely did not panic even when facing a 20s gap to the 6th place runner with just over a mile to the finish.
Coach, Chris Brown, said “After the lack of preparation Tom finishing 7th in the GB trial would have been a good return. I felt that the other runners could not maintain the pace and although tired Tom was still running strongly and I encouraged him not to give up the chase. He then powered up the long winding hill climb closing the gap all the time then on the final descent he moved into 5th place, turning into the uphill home straight he caught the 3rd and 4th placed runners with 100m to go and from somewhere he found a sprint finish to go clear to finish 3rd. Although this hard race will have benefited him it is unfortunate that the timing of the Europeans Championships does not allow Tom to get a block of training in and for him to be contending for European medals”