Burnley athlete Natalya claims county title success

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A YOUNG Burnley athlete is hoping to one day continue the Olympic legacy set by her role model - London 2012 silver medallist Samantha Murray.

Unity College’s Sports Personality of the Year Natalya Irvine stormed to victory in the Lancashire cross-country event held at Blackburn’s Witton Park.

The 12-year-old, from Worsthorne, won the Burnley Schools’ qualifier last year to book her place in the final of the county championships, where she shrugged off the challenge of 88 competitors to win the 2km race.

The Blackburn Harriers athlete was overtaken in the latter stages of the race by club mate Hannah Cookson but regained the lead in the last 50 metres, recording a time of eight minutes and eight seconds.

Natalya’s successes include being crowned English Schools’ fell running champion, culminating the Red Rose cross-country season in third place, as well as winning a triathlon in Wales where her seven-year-old sister Alayna was also first in her respective category.

The youngster, who also draws inspiration from Brownlee brothers Jonny and Alistair, will now move into the tetrathlon, which sees the addition of cross-country horse riding to running, shooting and swimming, before taking up fencing to complete the five events for modern pentathlon.

After competing in the Mid-Lancashire cross-country at Lancaster University and the Casterton triathlon in Kirby Lonsdale, Natalya will go on to compete in the national cross-country championships in Sunderland on February 23rd.

“I felt on top of the world winning at Witton Park,” she beamed. “Especially after a couple of recent setbacks due to ill health.”