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Triumph for Holloway
10:00pm Thursday 21st March 2013 in Sport
ATHLETICS: GRAYS’ cross-country star Gemma Holloway received a standing ovation from her class-mates when she returned to school this week after ensuring she will represent her country for the first time.
The 15-year-old William Edwards pupil dug deep to finish in eighth place in the intermediate girls race at the English Schools Cross-Country Championships in Derbyshire at the weekend.
And that was good enough to ensure she will represent England in a Home Nations international in Wales on Saturday.
The news had filtered back to her class-mates by her return to lessons on Monday and they were full of congratulations.
She will now go into Saturday’s international with the pressure off, according to mum Julie, and looking to enjoy the experience.
“It’s fantastic,” said Julie. “She normally gets really nervous before races, and was really nervous last week, but this weekend will be a new experience.
“She has got her England vest and she can relax and go out there and do her best.
“It’s what she has been working hard for and she’s done it.”
Holloway’s main objective this weekend will be to beat some of her England team-mates who got the better off her at the English Schools Cross-Country Championships.
“The first eight at the English Schools will run and Gemma was eighth, so she wants to improve on that.”
“She has struggled with injury this year and has worked so hard for this. You could see coming into the finish line that she was determined to hold on to that eighth place.”
Winning an England vest was not the only highlight of Holloway’s weekend.
The Thurrock Harrier also led the intermediate girls Essex team to a gold medal, while the county’s three girls teams combined won the overall award.
In that girls team was Holloway’s fellow William Edwards School pupil Gemma Archer-Haley who was a member of the junior girls team and finished in 154th place.
In the boys’ team, Stanford-le-Hope’s Tom Richardson was given the honour of being team captain and he led the way in style.
Richardson backed up his excellent run at the UK Intercounties a week earlier with another encouraging run, finishing in 13th place in the senior boys’ race. The team finished fourth, an agonising eight points shy of a medal. Meanwhile, Thurrock Harriers’ youngster Jody Meredith had an impressive run in the junior boys race, finishing in 97th place.
For more athletics see Friday's THURROCK GAZETTE.