National glory in reach for high-calibre City of Portsmouth talents

Holly Wilkinson is set to be among City's talented squad heading to Leeds for the nationals. Picture: Paul Smith
Holly Wilkinson is set to be among City's talented squad heading to Leeds for the nationals. Picture: Paul Smith
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If all goes smoothly on Saturday City of Portsmouth certainly have the quality to make a big impression at the National Cross Country Championships.

City will be taking a super talented squad up to the event which is hosted this year at Harewood House near Leeds and have athletes in the ranks with international experience.

Crucially many of the Portsmouth athletes also have the knowledge of what they need to do to earn medals at this high level.

It’s the showpiece cross country race day of the winter so far with 8,600 entrants.

The junior men’s race promises to be one of the great battles of the day.

City’s Lachlan Wellington has been stepping through the gears nicely on England duty recently with two international medals and he is the southern champion.

Jacob O’Hara, who is coached by Steve Purser, is looking strong in training and has been recording some good times.

Those two will be among some really classy athletes with numerous internationals in the field, including Southampton’s Zak Mahamed, Cambridge and Coleridge athlete Thomas Keen, Morpeth’s Rory Leonard, who is the northern champion and Ben Dijkstra, who is the midlands champion.

City coach Vince Stamp said: ‘Because it is in Leeds we are going up on the Friday and staying over the night.

‘The junior men’s race will be packed with internationals. They are an exceptional group and they are all good friends as well.

‘Zak will probably be looking to get one back on Lachie who beat him to win the southern title.’

One of City’s top performers recently has been Callum Crook.

He’s flying in training and will be hoping for a good race in the under-17 men’s age group.

Lewis Banner, Adam O’Hara and Chris Scott are all entered for the senior men’s race.

In the under-17 women’s race City have Ellie Farrow, Saffron Moore, Nicole Ainsworth and Penelope Batty all entered.

That team has plenty of national standard pedigree as well as top medals in the bag and international vests.

In the younger age groups City have some good talents developing fast.

Aaliyah Arkell, Libby Evans, Isabelle Brydon and Holly Wilkinson are lined up for the under-15 girls’ race.

The under-13 girls’ team has great potential with Finney Coomber, Daisy Wilkinson, Emily Lee and Ruby Gordon.

William Campbell goes in the under-15 boys’ race while Mackenzie Van Laun and Eddy Purser are in the under-13 boys’ age group.

The first race of the day is the under-17 women at 11am and the last race is the senior men at 3pm.