Cassie Thorp announced her return to fitness with a scintillating victory at the Eastleigh 10k.
Thorp put five months of frustration to one side as she hit the road with a bang to seal an exciting win in freezing conditions.
The City of Portsmouth ace claimed her victory in a time of 34min 30sec.
Thorp sat behind Worthing’s Emma Taylor-Gooby – the long-time race leader – for much of the event.
But with half a mile left the former The News Sports Awards sportswoman of the year made her move and outgunned her rival.
That was enough for Thorp to seal a 12-second win – in a time that was just three seconds off her personal best.
Thorp’s victory marks her first race since the Bupa Great South Run last October.
She had been hindered by a foot injury since then.
But Sunday’s success put those problems well and truly to bed and Thorp’s coach, Gerry North, believes she is looking as bright and strong as ever.
He said: ‘It was a brilliant performance from Cassie.
‘She’s had a lot of problems with an injury on the top of her foot
‘We thought it was a stress fracture and she hasn’t run since the Great South Run.
‘She had a bit of a ding-dong with Emma Taylor-Gooby.
‘But Cassie caught her with half a mile to go and then left her for dead.
‘Cassie was always confident she would be too strong for her when she was out there.
‘I think she was a bit surprised how well she came back, though.
‘It certainly looks as if the rest has done her good and the performance is great for Cassie’s confidence. Now we have to stay busy.
‘I’ll be looking for some races for her over the next few weeks as she looks motivated and is ready to work hard in training.’
Thorp’s performance wasn’t the only success for City in the Eastleigh 10k.
Her team-mate Lauren McCarthy delivered an outstanding finish to cross the line as the 14th woman overall in 38.06.
That time ranked her number one nationally over 10k in her under-17 category – in her first race over the distance.
And Emma Montiel smashed her personal best on the way to a 13th-placed finish in 37.34.
North said: ‘That was Lauren’s first-ever 10k.
‘She was highly chuffed to perform like that.
‘That makes her the fastest in the country at her age – something she is over the moon with.
‘And Emma made a great effort to smash her PB.
‘It was great to see all of them beaming after the race.’