A remarkable winter season took another turn on Saturday when Mari Smith took a silver medal on her world championship debut.
The Frisby middle distance runner brought home a team silver medal after helping Great Britain to a brilliant second place at the World University Cross Country Championships in Italy.
Mari produced another very good run to finish 25th, a few seconds behind her team-mate Rebecca Murray, in the prestigious event which is held every two years.
Her coach Bill Winters said: “The course was not the usual Continental style which is flat with a few man-made obstacles thrown in.
“This one was tortuous, twisty, up and down with a number of short, steep ascents and descents, coupled with tight turns.
The course was designed to disrupt the rhythm and flow of the athletes and succeeded.
However, Mari showed composure, courage and determination to battle for her position against many older and more experienced athletes.
“She was one of the youngest in the race, but you would not have known it,” Bill added.
“All in all, it was a wonderful experience for her, creating lasting memories.”
It brought to an end a landmark cross country season of firsts for the University of Birmingham student who will hope to take this confidence into the track season.
Mari won another team silver on her Great Britain debut at the European Junior Cross Country Championships, in France, before Christmas, and then made her senior international bow for England in Edinburgh in January.