Czura’s plan of attack pays off as Portsmouth talents impress

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Heather Cubbage. Picture: Paul Smith

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Victory in the Hampshire Cross Country League on Saturday completed an excellent double for Josie Czura.

The City of Portsmouth ace actioned her pre-race plan of attack perfectly to seal success in the under-15 girls race at Popham Airfield, in Basingstoke.

That came just two weeks after Czura won the English Schools Cross Country Cup, leaving many top talents in her shadow.

The one big rival the City athlete didn’t take on in the cup at Cornwall was Grace Copeland, from Wimborne.

But the duo came face to face on Saturday and Czura showed a clean pair of heels to the current British cross country champion who had to settle for second place, 27 seconds back.

City coach Vince Stamp felt it was the way Czura went about the task that ensured she left her rivals trailing.

He said: ‘We knew the course and Josie had planned a point where she was going to attack.

‘She tested her rivals with a couple of little surges.

‘Then on her third little surge she went hard and as soon as there was a gap she made a big push.

‘It’s a long downhill finish and we knew Grace’s track speed would count against Jo.

‘But when Jo kicked, Grace didn’t go with her and she couldn’t get back.

‘Jo was really chuffed to get the win.

‘In the English Schools’ Cross Country Cup she beat the current English Schools’ 800m champion and the English Schools’ 1,500m champion.

‘Now she has beaten the national cross country champion as well.’

City’s under-15 girls team finished in second behind Aldershot at Popham.

Czura led the way, with Elizabeth Rose second scorer in fifth and Laura Irvine third scorer in 13th.

Elizabeth Hedley, who has had a knee problem, finished 15th and Anya Pigden, who had been suffering with illness in the build-up to the event, came in 18th.

Key to Aldershot’s victory was former City athlete Maisie Grice, who was their third scorer with an eighth-place finish.

In the under-13s, Olivia Wiseman secured an impressive second place for City, Cheyenne James finished eighth and Bo Sansom came in 12th to seal a third-place finish in the team race.

Mia Billins and Hannah Newton also ran well as they came 25th and 26th respectively.

In the under-15 boys race, Lachlan Wellington finished fourth for City as he continued his rapid progress, while Jacob O’Hara ran well to cross the line in 13th.

Harry Moore was City’s third scorer in 33rd and they finished sixth in the team race.

Adam Kimber (38th) and Harry Wellstead (46th) also ran well for City in the under-15s.

The under-13s finished seventh, with Ben Czura (18th), Josh Fawcett (29th) and Tommy Roe (51st) scoring.

A strong local contingent represent Hampshire today in the South East Athletics Association Cross Country Inter Counties competition.

The match takes place in Oxford at Horspath Sports Ground, with the action starting at 11am.

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