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Keith is pictured with a former world champion, Steve Cram, less than a year ago. How many of these other youngsters will be inspired to the same heights?


Brave run from 17 year old sees him set the pace in the mid stages.  He remained in contention for a win until the last km when Gary Davenport stormed away for a clear win with Keith just a few seconds behind the other medalists.

Other results : (thanks to Chris Quine)

Chris Shimmin – under 17s – 94th

Andrew Newton – under 15s – 104th

Andy Fox has coached Keith Gerrard to his success.  In this picture from the Easter Festival in 2002, Andy was winning the awards himself but he got a shock on the Friday night when Keith took him on the hill for the first time.  Keith is in the background here but he has grown a lot since then, well, maybe not!


Manx hero.  

Keith Gerrard (155) where he spent most of the race – at the front.  

Picture by Malcolm Newton

Reebok Inter Counties Cross Country and World Cross Trials:

by Chris Quine

Keith Gerrard created some Manx sporting history by becoming the first local athlete to be selected to compete in the World Cross Country championships following the UK team trials last Saturday. The World Championships will be held in Brussels on 20th and 21st March and Keith is due to compete in the Men’s Under 20 race in what is said to be the most competitive race in the world as it attracts runners from such a diverse range of backgrounds.  

The trial was held in conjunction with the Reebok Inter Counties Championship and televised live on Sky Sports. With the first three gaining automatic selection plus up to three discretionary places available, this was arguably Keith’s biggest race to date in terms of pressure. Held in the impressive setting of Wollaton Park, Nottingham the parkland course was firm underfoot with one tough hill per lap plus a few other undulations.

For the first half of the 8k event, Keith tucked into the lead group, but at halfway started to make his move. With 3k to go, it looked like he might be part of a two man breakaway as he and Gary Davenport of Avon made a bid for glory. However, it was not to be and with 1k remaining a group of six contested the lead. In a frantic final 800m, Davenport made a successful bid for victory. Try as he did, Keith missed out on an automatic place by just 5 seconds to finish a brave 5th place. However, this run – and no doubt his other efforts over the winter – sufficiently impressed the selectors and at 7 pm on Saturday night he received a call from the GB team manager Bob Ashwood to say he had been selected for the World Championships – a great moment for Manx athletics.

Keith is a great role model for local youngsters to follow – unassuming and dedicated to his sport, his slight frame belies a steely determination to succeed.

Two other athletes were also selected to run for Lancashire. In the under 15s event Andrew Newton made a very steady start. However, he used the psychological benefit of passing people to his advantage by the end of the 4.5k event had worked his way up to 104th position. There were over 300 finishers – all selected to run for their respective counties. Three years ago Keith finished 157th in the corresponding race so with hard work who is to say that Andrew cannot try to emulate Keith in the years to come.

In the under 17 event over 6k, Rushen United footballer Chris Shimmin demonstrated his versatility for finish 94th in a similar sized field. Again he started steadily and moved through the field. If he decided to concentrate on athletics, he could be a real force to be reckoned with.

Both lads will have learned greatly from this experience. Such is he competitiveness of the event that small amount of time can cover large numbers. For example, in Andrew’s race there were more than two finishers per second at one point. Thus, a small improvement in time can bring a big improvement in position. Hopefully, Chris and Andrew – as well as other local athletes – will be inspired by Keith’s efforts and look to progress over the next year or two.

So, a very successful day for local cross country running and much to be positive about. It would be nice to see more Isle of Man runners in this event – hopefully we will see more in the future.

Enthusiasts now look forward to Brussels as Keith takes on the world – bring on the Kenyans!! 

Chris Shimmin above (212) and Andrew Newton below (231) also ran well for Lancashire at Nottingham on Saturday.  Pictures by Malcolm Newton.

This picture (by Malcolm Newton) shows what Keith Gerrard was up against when he secured his world championship team berth on Saturday in the inter counties championship at Nottingham.  Our 17 year old is barely shoulder height against some of the competition.

Andrew Newton, Keith Gerrard and Chris Quine standing out in the park on Sunday (picture by Malcolm Newton)

copyright (c) 2004 Murray Lambden. All rights reserved.
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