Victorious Cassie shines in Benidorm

112281_PURBROOK_LADIES_26/06/11''(128) Cassie Thorp, winner of the Purbrook Ladies 5mile road race, Purbrook Heath, Purbrook.' 'Picture: Allan Hutchings (112281-441)

112281_PURBROOK_LADIES_26/06/11''(128) Cassie Thorp, winner of the Purbrook Ladies 5mile road race, Purbrook Heath, Purbrook.' 'Picture: Allan Hutchings (112281-441)

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Cassie Thorp delivered her first international victory at the Benidorm Half Marathon.

Thorp travelled to Spain for competitive experience on the continent – and didn’t disappoint as she stormed to success.

The 24-year-old romped to the win in 1hr 19min 56sec to underline her emerging potential.

She held off the challenge of Moroccan Azeb Shewmare, who finished in 1.22.17.

Shewmare stayed with the City of Portsmouth talent to the 10k mark of the two-lap circuit.

But Thorp then turned up the heat and gradually opened up a lead to take what, in the final reckoning, was a comfortable win.

Thorp’s performance saw her pick up 500 euros in prize money, as well as a week’s holiday for two in Benidorm.

Her coach, Gerry North, was impressed with the promise shown in Thorp’s display.

North feels the victory will give her morale a lift as she continues to show her undoubted ability.

He said: ‘Cassie was made up to get the win and it was a big confidence booster for her.

‘It was a strong run and she was comfortably clear of the rest of the women’s field.

‘The conditions were perfect and I could not have asked for any better.

‘Her main opponent was with her until 10k, but then Cassie put the boot in and really pulled away.

‘As she was finishing the race up a hill she managed to outsprint eight men, so there was more in the tank.

‘Cassie got a fair amount of attention afterwards, and deservedly so. She was the star out there.

‘She’s got a bit to go yet, but said she could have gone faster. It’s a pleasing performance.’

Thorp will now focus her attentions on gaining some cross-country experience over the coming weeks.

The former Pompey Ladies footballer will represent Hampshire in the South of England Inter-Counties Championships on December 10, along with club-mate Jess Chen.

The plan is for the talent, who has gone through a hurtling period of development, to return to the road for the Stubbington 10K in January.

North said: ‘We’re looking for Cassie to stay busy.

‘We’re going to give her a few cross-country races to get her teeth into before going back to the road.’

Meanwhile, Chen went within nine seconds of making it into the Great Britain junior squad for the European Cross Country Championships.

The City talent finished ninth at the trials for the event in Liverpool in 15.51, with Dundee’s Laura Muir bagging the final qualifying spot in 15.42.

The Oxford University student now competes in the annual varsity match with Cambridge this weekend before inter-counties duty.

North said: ‘If Jess was 10 seconds faster she’d be running for Great Britain.

‘She should be chuffed with that. It gives her something to push for.’

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