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England star Dale stays out in front

CHARLOTTE DALE'S burgeoning reputation as one of Europe's top young athletes was confirmed in the Cross Internacional de Italica in Seville where she won the junior women's race by more than a minute.

Running for England, Dale, the 17-year-old Invicta East Kent runner from Whitstable, dominated the 4k race against girls two years older.

She said: "I expected tougher opposition from the Spanish runners, but I made a good start and got clear of the pack at an early stage. The race was a bit short for me, but a useful exercise as a speed training run."

Dale's main problem before the World Cross Country Trials in Nottingham next month and the World Championships in Dublin in March is finding tough-enough competition. She is heading for the sun when she competes in Portugal for Great Britain on January 26.

"I was planning to run in the South of England Championships at Parliament Hill that weekend, but I have decided to go somewhere warmer," she said. "After that, my coach, Peter Brenchley, will start to wind down the training for the World trials."

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