Gemma Kersey feeling confident again after impressing on senior international debut

Southend Standard: Gemma Kersey Gemma Kersey

GEMMA Kersey is back feeling confident about her running and she showed it during her first senior international in Belgium.

The Basildon AC athlete has worked hard to iron out the bio-mechanical issues that held back her summer season and has been in good form this winter.

And that form was rewarded when she received a late call-up to compete for England at the world-class Lotto Cross Cup in Brussels.

Competing against some top-level opposition, including leading African athletes and last year’s European Cross-Country champion Fionuala Britton of Ireland, Kersey finished in a fine 11th place.

And that run proved to the 21-year-old that a recent setback at the trials for the European Cross-Country Championships was just a blip.

“I knew what shape I was in going into the trials and that’s why it was a bit of a shock when I didn’t feel good,” said Kersey who won the Southern Intercounties title a week before racing in Belgium.

“Eamonn (Martin, Kersey’s coach) said I should run the Southern Intercounties to get my confidence back and it felt like I was cruising there.

“I got a late call to join the England team after that and that was nice. Even though I didn’t make the GB team for the European Cross-Country Championships, this was my first senior international and it felt like a step forward.”

Kersey was the fourth English woman to finish but the quartet were only separated by 18 seconds.

“I would have liked to have come higher among the English girls but the first two (Lorna Russell and Chloe Richardson) have had call-ups to the GB team for the Edinburgh International so that shows I’m not that far off.

“Overall I’m really chuffed with how it went, given it was a last-minute call-up and my first senior international. It was a great experience. Just standing on the start-line next to top Kenyans was fantastic.”

Kersey has revealed she plans to kick-on in the new year with her focus, initially at least, staying on cross-country racing.

She will run the Essex Championships next week as she builds up to the UK Intercounties in March where she is hoping for a top 20 finish as she continues her adjustment to life in the senior ranks.

“I’m still getting used to the 8km distance of senior races,” said Kersey. “It took me a while to get used to the switch from 4km to 6km as a junior but this is a bigger step up. Those extra 2km are tough if you are a track runner!”

Kersey will also run indoors in February – the 1,500m at the British Championships and the 3,000m at the British Universities Championships – and is delighted to be back enjoying racing again.

“I do feel myself again,” she said. “I know when I’m not right. I wasn’t myself for a while. I have been trying to bounce back but although my head wanted to, my legs didn’t.

“I wasn’t able to string consistent sessions together in the summer but now it’s completely turned around.

“I’m still working hard to make sure the bio-mechanical issues I was having in the summer stay away but I feel like I’m heading in the right direction.”

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