Glory for Mansfield ace Luke Duffy on his Euro debut

Mansfield Harriers star Luke Duffy enjoyed glory at the 27th SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Dublin on Sunday in the senior mixed relay event as the Great Britain team won the event by four seconds from France with the Belgium team a further second behind, writes Richard Massey.

The fantastic four - Luke Duffy, right, with Ben West, Alexandra Bell, and Hannah Nutall.
The fantastic four - Luke Duffy, right, with Ben West, Alexandra Bell, and Hannah Nutall.

Duffy, 21, was making his GB debut as part of a young team alongside the Great Britain team captain and Tokyo 800m Olympic finalist Alexandra Bell and brings home a senior gold medal from one of cross country’s major events.

A Mansfield Harriers club spokesman said: “We are extremely proud of Luke and this magnificent achievement - it has to be one of the highlights of the club's long history.

“Luke is a one club athlete, joining Mansfield Harriers at the age of 13 and this success is testament to the club's development structure.

“We hope that this success can be an inspiration for our junior athletes and encourage others from within the area to take up the sport of athletics.”Congratulations Luke on your senior European gold medal.”

In a close event Hannah Nuttall went out for Great Britain and Northern Ireland and, staying close to the rest of the field, came home 6th in a time of 4.32.36.

Duffy then ran the second leg with a brief of keeping in contention and, running strongly throughout, kept the team in sixth place, handing over to GB captain Bell, who stormed through the field to bring back the team home in first place, four seconds ahead of the field, recording 4.47.39.

Another 21-year-old GB debutant Ben West had the pressure of the glory leg, he went out hard to build big lead at halfway, celebrating as he came over the line to earn the team gold recording 4.22.10

The GB team came away as the overall champions with five gold, one silver and two bronze medals with Norway second with five medals including two gold with Olympic 1500 winner Jakob Ingebrigtsen winning the senior title.

Ingebrigtsen might have been the youngest competitor in the senior men’s race by two years but the scintillating Norwegian glided to gold.

Ingebrigtsen would have been eligible for the U23 race - and he remains so next year as well when the championships take place in Turin.

However, the Olympic champion stepped up both in age-group and in distance at the Sport Ireland Campus to win his sixth European senior title at the age of 21.

The distance of 10km might be slightly beyond Ingebrigtsen’s speciality but he never looked under considerable pressure or out of his comfort zone against what was arguably the finest ever men’s field assembled at the European Cross Country Championships.

Reigning two-time champion Aras Kaya from Turkey set an unrelenting pace on a muddy and rutted course.

But Ingebrigtsen loomed onto Kaya’s shoulder before nonchalantly moving past the reigning champion with just under 1k to go.

Behind France with 13 points, Spain took the team silver medal with 30 points while Norway were third with 47 points.