Yelling comes out of retirement to romp to gold in Dublin
HAYLEY Yelling rolled back the years to romp to European Cross Country Championship gold in Dublin - and hinted she may prolong her career for next October's Commonwealth Games.
ROLLING BACK THE YEARS: Hayley Yelling comes out of retirement to storm to gold at European Cross Country Championships
The 35-year-old, making her 12th appearance in the competition, led from start to finish to clinch an emphatic victory - the second of her career, having topped the podium in Heringsdorf, Germany in 2004.
Yelling's victory is made all the more impressive by the fact that she only recently came out of retirement and, by her own admission, had only five weeks of intensive training behind her.
But she stormed out in front straight from the gun and never looked back, giving a master class in leading from the front before crossing the line in 27:49 minutes, 13 seconds ahead of Spain's Rosa Maria Morato.
And Yelling insists victory was the furthest thing from her mind upon arriving in Dublin, but having topped the podium, she's not ready to throw in the towel just yet.
"I can't really believe it," said Yelling. "I came here with no expectations at all and I think that really helped.
"I wasn't thinking about winning at all. I just wanted to go out there and enjoy the race and that's what I did.
"There was no pressure on me. I just thought I needed to start strongly and I managed to keep it going and it's a great feeling.
"I've been doing full sessions for about a month, about 65-70 miles a week and I felt great out there.
"Now I'll have a bit of a break before thinking about what to do next. Maybe the Commonwealth Games in October - I think I'll have to speak to my husband!"
Yelling's victory was good enough to earn Great Britain team silver, behind Portugal, who took gold, courtesy of having three athletes in the top ten.
The next highest British finisher was Freya Murray, while Katrina Wootton came home in 20th and Sonia Samuels in 21st.
In taking gold, Yelling becomes the first British women to reach the podium at the European Cross Country Championships since she did so in 2004. The Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow runner revealed she holds the competition close to her heart.
"I always love doing this competition. It's always just before Christmas and it always gets me in the spirit of things," she added.
"And winning makes me think, ‘What was I thinking doing 100 miles a week in training for, for so long?
"Funnily enough this is the first year that my coach [Conrad Milton] has not come here and I've ended up winning."