Dromore girl Rebekah Nixon has proved she’s not out of place amongst the top young runners from across the UK.
She travelled to Edinburgh to take part in the Great Edinburgh Cross-Country races on Saturday and impressed with a 12th place finish in the Celtic race while securing 43rd spot in the overall Celtic and International stakes.
Last week, the Banbridge Academy student told the Leader she was relying on God to bring her through and, after the race, was quick to point the source of her inspiration.
“Prayer was answered and I felt God’s presence and His strength as I ran,” she said.
“As I thought, it was a real eye opener to how much work I’ll have to put in during these coming years to get to that level but I also have to remember some of these girls were up to five years older than me.
“The start of the race was very fast as expected but I set a steady pace and got into my stride. I was relying on God and His strength and I was able to finish with a strong last lap.”
The six kilometre race was split into four 1500 metre laps, including a dash through a suitably chilly Scottish burn.
“It was the longest and most arduous race I have ever competed in,” continued Rebekah, “and I was unfamiliar with most of my competitors except my team members.
“In the past, in races with senior opposition, I’ve gone out too quickly and come the end of the race I’m struggling so I was conscious of making sure that didn’t happen this time. Maybe I could have got the balance a bit better but each race is a learning experience.
“It was such an amazing experience and I really appreciated all the encouragement and support I received - it was overwhelming.”
Rebekah had to overcome adversity just before the starting gun, as a mishap with her shoes threatend to trip up her preparations.
“Everything was going very well until about 15 minutes before the race when I was tying my spike laces and the lace on my right shoe snapped,” she said, “but as an athlete you have to learn to keep calm under stress, so I took the lace from my trainers, laced up my spikes and thankfully I made it to the start line on time - just about!”
After Rebekah’s dad Stephen had requested a selfie with headline act Mo Farah that part of the trip was to lead only to frustration.
She said: “Unfortunately there was no opportunity for a selfie with Mo and even more disappointing he didn’t win but it was just terrific to be around so many world-class athletes and learn from their preparations, and race tactics.
“I must say a big thank-you to the Athletics NI officials who accompanied us. They were such an encouragement and really looked after us so well.
“I’m now really looking forward to working hard this season and seeing what God has in store!”
For now, though, it’s back to porridge and the small matter of AS Levels at Banbridge Academy. After that, keep an eye out for more from another of the District’s talented young sports stars.