Talented teenage athlete Mari Smith has told the Melton Times about her joy at winning a silver medal in her first ever run for Great Britain.
The 19-year-old, from Frisby, was a member of the six-strong squad which finished second at the European Junior Cross Country Championships in France.
Mari crossed the finish line in Hyères, near Toulon, in an impressive 22nd place in the individual standings.
She said: “We had a nice atmosphere within the team and it was really special to win a medal.
“I have run for England in the past but to represent Great Britain is a big highlight in my career.
“I’ve been through a few injuries in the past so it was great to get a medal at the weekend after all of that.”
It was a great day all round for Team GB with every member of the squad, both senior and junior, winning a medal at the most prestigious cross country competition in Europe.
And Britain topped the medals table for the 13th consecutive year.
Mari’s team-mate in the junior women’s team, Harriet Knowles-Jones, won an individual silver, coming in just behind the winner, German runner Konstanze Klosterhalfen.
Mari said she went into the race in confident mood.
“We are always strong in the European Championships so everyone was hoping we would get a medal,” she said.
“The course was really fast because it was flat and dry.
“It was nothing like a typical English cross country course where we are usually wading through mud and going up and down hills.
“I finished in 14 minutes dead, which I was very pleased with.”
Mari, a student at Birmingham University, is now looking forward to building on her success during 2016.
She added: “I have some indoor races coming up and I definitely want to progress as a track athlete.”
Mari was cheered on in France by dad Bruce, mum Jackie and sister Genna, who live in Frisby.
A proud Bruce said: “We are so pleased for Mari that all her hard work has paid off.
“It has always been her dream to run for Great Britain so to come away from her first international competition with a silver medal is absolutely fantastic.”