Fab four fight back for bronze

Cassie Thorp.  Picture: Ian Burnett
Cassie Thorp. Picture: Ian Burnett

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City of Portsmouth’s awesome foursome showed their resolve to grab bronze at the South of England Road Relay Championships.

Gerry North’s team delivered a stirring comeback to take third place at the Rushmoor Arena.

And that fighting display was enough for the squad to book their spot at the national finals next month.

Jess Chen, Emma Gilmore, Karrie Blake and Cassie Thorp combined to produce their podium place behind the two powerful Aldershot, Farnham & District squads.

Just how strong those two outfits were could be seen with Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Steph Twell being named in their B squad.

City were undeterred by the challenge they faced, however, with Chen shining as she took the opening leg.

Chen impressed with her time of 13min 19sec – enough to establish City in fifth place against strong opposition.

She handed over to Gilmore, whose recent shin-splint problems led to a slower than usual performance.

Gilmore showed she is still finding her feet after a period out of training as she battled to a 15.17 leg which saw City’s quartet drop to 15th.

But that paved the way for the big fight back over the second half of the race.

Blake took over from Gilmore and delivered a stirring leg as she clocked a 13.20 time. That propelled he team up a whopping 10 places to fifth spot again.

Blake then handed over to Thorp for the final leg.

Thorp had it all to do to get City on to the podium but managed to pull it out of the bag in dramatic style.

Her time of 13.00 saw her overhaul her Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers and Southampton rivals to grab third in an overall 54.56 time.

The display drew praise from North, who explained the strength of the women’s team performance caused reverberations in the road racing world.

He said: ‘We were very pleased with the performance.

‘Jess ran a brilliant first leg but we dropped off because of Emma’s lack of training.

‘Karrie ran a stormer and then Cassie left them for dead.

‘People took notice and the girls were very excited at the end. It was great to see.’