Northampton runner Emily Williams secured a magnificent silver medal competing for Great Britain in the European Athletics Under-18 Championships in Hungary.
Competing in the 1500m for the first time in a full International, Northampton School for Girls pupil Williams produced a fantastic performance to land a podium finish on her GB debut.
The 16-year-old’s superb performance helped the British team finish top in the medals table with nine medals in total, the team claiming six gold, two silver and one bronze.
The championships were held in Gyor in Hungary in the new purpose-built Olympic Park Stadium.
There were 50 countries represented with more than 1,000 athletes competing, and the event was televised by Eurosport.
In qualifying, Williams, who runs for Kettering Town Harriers, had to finish in the top four to guarantee a place in the final, and she ran a calm race to come second behind Poland’s Klaudia Kazimierska in a time of 4:34.62.
In the final two days later, Williams knew she was going to have to go well to finish with a medal as she was up against twof Europe’s top ranked runners in Ireland’s Sarah Healey and Kazimierska, and a clutch of other athletes who were all within touching distance of Williams’ personal best of 4:20.88.
Williams ran a brilliant race, and although Healey proved to be a class apart and a deserving winner, Williams was a brilliant second, with a devastating final 100m seeing her home in 4:22.11.
Williams was delighted with her performance, and said: “Oh my gosh, it sounds unbelievable to be a European Under-18 silver medallist.”
“I was nervous – but I could see that three of us had moved away from the others.
“The pace picked up with 200 metres to go and I knew I had to go with it because I really wanted a medal.
“I’ve mixed between the 1500m and 800m all season and I think my speed really helped me in the final part of the race.”
Williams’ coach Shane Smith, who travelled to Hungary along with Emily’s parents Rosie and Rodney, was delighted to see her claim a medal at her first full international.
“Emily has handled the whole experience of the GB camp, with high level media coverage, the qualification round and the pressure of expectation to reach the podium in her stride,” said Smith.
“I am confident Emily will take on board the whole positive experience of the championships and be hungry for more success on the European and world stage. She certainly has the ability to achieve this.”
Williams now gets some well deserved recovery before deciding if she will compete in the upcoming English Schools Championships.