josie cZURA inspired City of Portsmouth as they claimed team silver at the Southern Cross Country Championships at the weekend.
The talented 12-year-old continued her impressive winter form by claiming a third-place finish in the girls’ under-13 category of the prestigious Parliament Hill race.
That impressive podium placing against some of the country’s finest young pretenders, along with some eye-catching performances from her team-mates, handed City’s youngsters the honour of finishing second overall in an ultra-competitive age group.
Newly-crowned Hampshire Cross Country League champion Czura, who competed while suffering with a cold, picked up individual bronze after completing the mud-sodden course in the capital in 11min 20sec.
Her finishing time was only nine seconds behind winner Holly Page from Dartford Harriers (11.11), and a second slower than runner-up Amelia Vance (11.19) of Taunton AC.
City team-mates Elizabeth Headley (11.54), Maisie Grice (12.28) and Cheyanne James (12.39) were not that far behind as they claimed 16th, 43rd and 58th spots respectively to help the Mountbatten Centre-based side claim team honours.
Meanwhile, Anya Pigden (12.54) did well to miss out as the team’s fifth-placed non-scorer.
However, it was star-performer Czura who stole the limelight once again as her stock continues to rise with every outing – even if it did take City coach Gerry North to persuade her to run.
‘Josie had a brilliant run and was only pipped for second place on the line – despite suffering from a cold,’ said North.
‘She nearly didn’t run, however, as her mum came up to me beforehand and asked me to speak to her as she was feeling the effects of the cold.
‘I just told her to do her best and have a good run, and she ended up running like a bomb.
‘It was a tremendous performance and some going. She couldn’t help smiling afterwards.’
North also praised the under-13 team for their efforts on the day.
‘They all did really well,’ he added.
‘Aldershot may have beaten us to the gold, but with our girls showing this type of form they better watch out.’
City enjoyed further success, with Alex Teuton (50.30) finishing seventh overall in the senior men’s race – a time that also gave him the honour of being the first under-23 man over the line.
Ethan Bevis also claimed a seventh-placed finish with a time of 15.09 in the under-15 boys’ category, while under-17 runner Lauren McCarthy (21.57) finished 43rd in the girls’ category.
Havant’s Amy Bream recorded a time of 26.57 as she finished 35th in the under-20 women’s event.