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Steel in her quickest time

Gemma Steel

Gemma Steel gave another demonstration of her outstanding quality in a tremendous race in the Great South Run on Sunday.

The Great Britain athlete, who won individual silver and team gold at last year’s SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Belgrade, was narrowly beaten into second over 10 miles by Ethiopian Belaynesh Oljira in Portsmouth.

But it was a race decided only over the last 150 metres as Steel had led for the majority of the way but did not have enough kick to hold on as Oljira, a track specialist who won bronze in the 10,000m at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow in 2013, burst away.

As she won in 52:40, Steel was second in 52:42 having produced the performance of her life over the distance to break her personal best time by 1:02!

Building towards December’s SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Samokov, Steel is in outstanding form. This second place follows a similar finish at the half-marathon distance in the Great North Run last month when she ran a personal best of 1:08:13.

Steel, 28, said: “I felt like I earned the win but I did not quite pull it off. I was trying to push on through the race, to make it a hard race for everyone, I tried to burn everyone off.”

Particularly in mile five which Steel took the runners through in a punishing 4:54 and for the last three miles it was just about Oljira and her.

When the Ethiopian moved in front, Steel responded, only to be denied in the finale as Kenyan Doris Changeiywo was third in 54:18. The next best European was Poland’s Iwona Lewandowska, sixth in 55:40, with Spain’s Alessandra Aguilar in seventh in 55:45.

It all points to Steel making her mark again at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships where she has built up an impressive record.

She was third in Velenje in 2011, when she also won the first of her team gold medals, and in 2010, it was team silver in Albufeira.

Last year France’s Sophie Duarte had just too much for her in the individual race as she triumphed in 26:34, with Steel five seconds behind.

But the endurance Steel showed on Sunday, along with the personal best time, will be encouragement enough even if she did not win.

read further article: Steel strong in Great South Run

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