Damen delight after three years of injury hell
LOUISE Damen couldn't wipe the smile off her face after Great Britain landed team silver at the European Cross Country Championships on Sunday.
The 26-year-old Winchester and District AC star, who has been plagued with injuries for the last three seasons, was delighted with her performance at the Parc de Laeken in Brussels, after coming home as the second Brit.
Damen finished in ninth position in a time of 28.33 minutes, just one position behind Britain's first runner over the line, Hatti Dean. Holland's Hilda Kibet took the individual gold, with Portugal's Jessica Augusto and Ines Monteiro taking the silver and bronze medals respectively.
But for Winchester's Damen, it was a job well done
She said: "I had aspirations of the top ten, I managed that and I loved every minute of it. The course suited my strengths. It was more of a strong person's course; you just had to trust your endurance.
"Slowly but surely I'm coming back to the level I want to be at. I've got fond memories of Brussels because of doing the World Cross Championships here four years ago - and I've thoroughly enjoyed the experience again."
With the first four Brits home all scoring points towards the team prize - Damen combined with Dean, Laura Kenney (13th) and former winner Hayley Yelling (19th) to win a podium spot.
But Damen believes the enforced absences of the likes of senior stars Jo Pavey and Paula Radcliffe, cost Britain a shot at team gold.
"Without Paula Radcliffe and Jo Pavey, with respect to the other girls, maybe we lacked the confidence at the really top end," she added.
"They are quality athletes, with bags of experience and I think we needed that if we were to challenge Portugal for the team gold.
"They're a tough act to follow but I think we acquitted ourselves well and importantly we were competitive in Belgium."