ADAM Hickey will fly home from the European Cross Country Championships in Belgrade with a bronze medal in his back pocket.

The Southend AC athlete was Great Britain's crucial fourth scorer in the senior men's race as he finished strongly in 25th place.

It helped Britain squeeze past France to win team bronze medals after a battle that the French seemed to have had wrapped up with just 1.5km of the 10km race to go.

But thanks to Hickey picking up three places in the closing stages and to a stunning finish from team leader Andy Vernon which saw him take an individual bronze medal, the Brits were able to take third by just six points.

Hickey was in 35th spot after just 2.5km of the multi-lap course in the Serbian capital before working his way through the field in a race that was won by the controversial Spanish athlete Alemayehu Bezabeh who has just returned from a two-year doping ban.

Tom Farrell (12th) and Keith Gerrard (20th) were the other British scorers.

It was opposite scenario unfortunately in the junior men's race as former Southend High School for Boys' pupil Alex Short and his Great Britain team-mates were run out of the medals, finishing in fourth place.

Short, 19, was the fourth British scorer in 26th place.

For full story and reaction, see the Echo later this week.