So near, so far again for Alex
ALEX George could be forgiven for being just a little frustrated after being cruelly denied victory in the South West Schools' Cross-Country Championships.
With 400 metres remaining the 16-year-old Marling School Sixth Form student from Abbeymead looked to have sewn up victory in the senior boys race after a fierce mid-race surge had taken him clear of the field at Blaise Castle in Bristol.
George was looking strong and in control, but suddenly Dorset champion and British junior international Benedict Westhenry found another gear and with a devastating turn of speed drew level with George along the home straight.
The pair fought shoulder to shoulder, neither giving way, until Westhenry timed his lunge for the line better and was given the judges' verdict by the width of his county vest.
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"I could hear Ben coming and could then see his shadow," said George.
"I know I have a good sprint and I gave it everything but Ben just had that edge. I tried to dive for the line as well but I had nothing left in my legs."
For county champion George, who is a member of Gloucester AC, the silver medal was a bittersweet moment as it is the third time in succession that he has finished runner-up after second places in both the McCain Challenge in Cardiff and the Midland Counties Championships.
George was particularly upset with the silver in the latter, but he should feel no disappointment with his latest effort in what was not only the race of the day but also one of the most exciting seen in recent years.
"Yes, I have to be very happy with that because I gave it a go and tried to win," added George.
"I'll be back again next year."
George also added a bronze to his collection after leading the county squad of twin brother Thomas, Matt Doyle, Danny Stuart, Harry Bishop and Kyran Hale to third in the team competition.
The county's top young athletes also won two further silver medals and a bronze, plus five more podium finishes in the team competition.
In the senior girls race Lillie Bellamy, a 16-year-old student at Cirencester College, ran a solo race to finish an isolated second behind runaway winner Victoria Kenney.
"I can't complain with that," said Bellamy, who made the podium for the first time after fourth, fifth and seventh places in the last four years.
Bellamy also led the county squad of Mia O'Connell and Lucy Goudswaard – who were fifth and sixth respectively – Rachel See, Holly Jones and Tanya Chiaranussati to the team silver medals.
There was an excellent performance from 15-year-old Bournside School student Dmitriy Nazarenko as he finished runner-up in a very competitive inter boys' race.
Nazarenko, who competes for Cheltenham Harriers, was always to the fore and while he could not match the pace of eventual winner Oliver Fox of Somerset he finished a comfortable second – nine seconds clear of his nearest rival.
"I am having a good season and that is probably my best result so far," said Nazarenko, whose previous best in this event was tenth two years ago.
"I hope I can now keep it going."
Matthew Crew and Scott Carpenter also made the top ten as the inter boys finished third in the team competition.
The final individual medal was a bronze for 13-year-old Rendcomb College youngster Grace Knapp in the junior girls race.
"That was an excellent effort by Grace," said her coach Chris Bourne.