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Athletics: Gift of silver for Forrester; Birthday boy logs on to fine team success.

Byline: By JAMES PEARCE

DAVID FORRESTER celebrated his 18th birthday in style by leading Great Britain to team silver in the junior men's event at the European Cross Country Championships in Toro, Spain.

The St Helens Sutton athlete narrowly missed out on an individual medal, finishing fourth over the 6.7km course in 20mins 21secs.

It was a fine performance from the Winstanley College student, who was making his first appearance at the championships.

Most of his rivals were up to two years older, but he finished just five seconds adrift of third-placed Ukrainian Dmytro Lashyn.

France grabbed gold and silver, courtesy of Mourad Amdouni (20:08) and Florian Carvalho (20:11).

Forrester, who was 18 on Tuesday, did not go home empty handed as British team-mates Lee Carey (5th), Ben Lindsay (12th) and Mitch Goose (27th) helped him secure second spot overall behind France, with the Germans having to settle for bronze.

He said: "It was a bit slow at first and there was a lot of pushing and shoving. There were obstacles like logs you had to jump and people were getting knocked about.

"But as the race went on it got really fast and I was about tenth going into the final lap.

"I went into the race looking to get into the top 10 so to move up to fourth was fantastic.

"If I had made my move a bit earlier I might have got bronze, but I was really pleased with how things went.

"As a team we did really well. Nobody was expecting us to get a medal so to win silver was a great achievement."

Britain enjoyed its best medal haul at the event with four golds, two silvers and two bronze to finish as the most successful nation.

Steph Twell successfully defended the junior women's title, fellow Brit Charlotte Purdue earned bronze and the team took gold.

Britain also won both the under-23 team titles with Andy Vernon adding individual bronze.

The senior women claimed team silver with only the senior men failing to secure a place on the podium.

Britain's team leader Alan Storey said: "The number of medals won is a tribute to the work done at grassroots by hard working athletes, coaches and administrators throughout the sport of cross country.

"The confidence gained from these events will spill over onto the track for people who are going about their jobs in a workmanlike manner."

Forrester will now set his sights on the World Cross Country Championships which are being held in Edinburgh in March.

Liverpool Harriers' John McCole finished second in the Thompson Bros Stockport 10.

McCole completed the course in 52:18 as Bel-grave Harriers' Mark Miles secured a comfortable victory in 50:22. Harriers' Richard Burney was third in 53:58.

james.pearce@liverpool.com

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LEADING LIGHT: St Helens Sutton's David Forrester (No122) in action in Toro
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Dec 13, 2007
Words:482
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