Cassie Thorp’s exciting development continued with victory at the South of England Inter Counties Championships.
The City of Portsmouth starlet showed her ever-developing talent as she picked up a classy cross-country success in Croydon.
Thorp edged out Havering Mayesbrook’s Alexa Joel and Aldershot, Farnham & District rival Georgie Bruinvels to gain the win.
The 24-year-old had to battle hard to fend off the challenge of Joel to eventually grabbed the title in 23mins 49secs.
Joel was just four seconds down on Thorp, with Bruinvels crossing the line in 24.09.
It’s another feather in the cap for the former Pompey Ladies footballer, who is now beginning to realise her talent after switching to athletics.
It comes on top of her recently winning the Benidorm Half Marathon in Spain.
Coach Gerry North was delighted, with Thorp’s performance coming against talented opposition.
He believes that is an indication of the progress she is making.
North said: ‘It was a brilliant race and Cassie won it with a blinding run.
‘What makes it even better is she has beaten really good runners.
‘Georgie Bruinvels has beaten Cassie every time they have met before.
‘The conditions suited Cassie. It was quite a hilly course.
‘It was a two-lap course and Cassie took the lead in the second lap going up the hill.
‘Alexa Joel wouldn’t give an inch, though.
‘Cassie just managed to win it in the end from her.
‘She was over the moon after and chuffed about winning.
‘To become the South of England Inter-Counties champion is a great achievement.’
City’s Jess Chen was also in action at Lloyd Park as she finished third in the under-20 race.
Chen clocked a time of 24.53 to deliver another positive performance behind winner Grace Nicholls.
North believes the Oxford University student has every chance of picking up a Great Britain vest in 2012.
He said: ‘Jess is only 18, so she has another year to go in her category.
‘She had a bit of a cold but still wanted to run and did well in the circumstances.
‘I’ve no doubt she’ll get her GB vest next year if she carries on as she is.’
There will be no let-up for Thorp and Chen over the festive period as they keep up their busy training schedules.
Thorp will be looking towards the Hampshire Cross Country Championships in Dibden next month.
Chen has a busy schedule, with the British Universities Championships in Cardiff next February on her timetable.
Karrie Blake is also shining in training and will be looking to convert that to race time in 2012.
North said: ‘There isn’t going to be any rest over Christmas.
‘Cassie will be training every day and Jess only rests when she’s ill.
‘Karrie is flying in training as well and has a friendly rivalry with Cassie. They both push each other.’