LAUREN McCARTHY has suffered a setback in her promising athletics career.
An untimely virus has ruled the 16-year-old City of Portsmouth runner out of tomorrow’s Saucony Hampshire Cross-Country Championships.
The talented teenager, from Stubbington, has been virtually indestructible on the Wessex League Cross Country circuit this season.
But illness means she will now be unable to add to an impressive three victories in her past four outings, a feat which had left adult rivals trailing in her wake.
A top-eight finish for McCarthy at Fleming Park in Eastleigh tomorrow would have been enough to see her qualify to race in the South of England Championships at Parliament Hill Fields in London on January 26.
It would have also continued the outstanding progress made by the starlet, who has been running for only 12 months and is a year younger than many of the top athletes in her age group.
City of Portsmouth coach Gerry North, who has been overseeing McCarthy’s development, expressed his disappointment the ‘elegant’ runner was out of action.
He said: ‘It is a massive disappointment and setback that Lauren will not be running.
‘She is a top prospect and loves the cross-country scene.
‘Lauren only started running last year but I could see the potential she has straight away. She has a lovely style, with a nice long stride.’
North added: ‘It is a great shame that she is suffering from a virus, which I believe has affected all of her family.
‘It’s a bug that seems to be going around at the moment as a number of City of Portsmouth runners are also unwell, so I am expecting there will not be a great turn out tomorrow.’
The Saucony Hampshire Cross-Country Championships start at 11am, with under-11 boys first up in non-championship action.
The senior men begin at 1.40pm and run 12k. The senior women start their 8k race at 12.45pm.