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TAMWORTH long distance runner Ellis Cross summoned the underdog spirit over the Bank Holiday Weekend as he surprised his opponents to take the 5,000m title at BUCS Outdoors.

The 22-year-old athlete, who studies at St Mary’s University, was competing in the British Universities & Colleges Sport Outdoor Championships and delivered a stunning race that confirmed his status as one of the country’s rising athletics stars.

Cross was up against a highly talented field in the final, running against last year’s champion and teammate Emile Cairess, and the much-fancied Mahamed Mahamed of Southampton Solent University.

But Cross dazzled the crowds at Bedford Athletics Stadium with a supremely determined final lap that saw him storm away from the field and hold off Cairess’ challenge at the line.

After the win, he commented: “I really wanted that race because last year I came third and I was still quite happy with that but I wanted this one.

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“I didn’t know what to expect coming into this race having such a loaded field with guys like Emile (Cairess) in there and Abdi (Abdulqani Sharif) as well who I train day in, day out with.

“Those guys are flying and I surprised myself but I’m ecstatic with how the race went and I can’t believe it to be honest.

“Coming into the race I was underdog and I quite like that to be honest, I kind of thought Emile was going to win as well but the race panned out in my favour and I was happy with how I executed!”

After the conclusion of the race it was the St Mary’s team who had much to celebrate, as they claimed an amazing one-two-three with Cross and Cairess followed by teammate Abdi Sharif.

All three train at the Endurance Performance and Coaching Centre (EPACC) at St Mary’s in Twickenham, well known for its success with 12 athletes competing at the Commonwealth Games last year.

The future is bright for young Tamworth runner Cross, who has choices now over which path to follow.

He added: “I’ve still got to make a decision really as to whether I fancy applying to try and run in the world junior games, potentially over 10,000 metres – I feel I’m a bit more suited to that.

“But it’s either that or the European 10,000m cup which is in Highgate in July. I’ll potentially run there and try and run a fast time so a few options to discuss with my coach!”

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