Izzy books her place in Brussels as Fry qualifies for European Cross Country Championships
Newbury Athletic Club's Izzy Fry is ending a challenging year on a high after she qualified for next Sunday's European Cross Country Championships in Brussels.
The talented 23-year-old endured six months on the sidelines after suffering a serious foot injury at the Trafford 10k in March but secured a spot in Team GB's squad for the trip to Belgium after finishing third at the trials race in Liverpool.
Needing to finish inside the top six to ensure she was on the start line on December 10, the former World University Cross Country champion produced a blistering performance, breaking away with four other athletes and edging out the far more experienced Jess Judd to complete the 8.1 kilometre course in 27.05. And Fry, who was racing as a senior for the first time, admitted she is delighted to be feeling back to her best.
“For a long time now I’ve been holding onto hope that I would get back to my best and put in a performance that I’m proud of – and I think Saturday was that day,” she said.
“It just clicked. Qualifying has been a goal that I’ve always had in the back of my mind throughout my injury and all the changes that I’ve made this year, but I knew it was going to be a big ask.
“The hope of getting back into a Team GB vest at the end of the year has pulled me through a lot of the tougher times. To not just hope it, but to actually achieve it, is amazing.
“Usually in trials races I seem to make it difficult for myself, but on Saturday I made it quite easy. After getting in the breakaway, I knew that unless I had a total blow up on the last two laps I had the automatic spot in the bag.
“It was just a case of enjoying it, soaking in the atmosphere and racing the girls around me."
Fry, who swapped Team New Balance Manchester for Loughborough University earlier in the year, says she feels stronger than ever since returning from injury – although insists she won't be putting too much pressure on herself when she races in Brussels.
She said: “I feel like a completely different athlete compared to this time last year. On Saturday, I said to my coach, ‘I feel like I can’t lose today’. Even if I didn't make the team, I knew I’d made such a big step.
“I have no idea what to expect (in Brussels). It’s my first senior race and I know it’s going to be stacked. It’s a completely different way of racing.
“I’d love to count for the team, so I’d have to be in the first three British athletes, but I’m just going to enjoy it and learn from it.”
While Fry admits next year’s Paris Olympics might come too soon, she’s hopeful she can qualify for the European Athletics Championships, which will be held in Rome in June.
“Us athletes are always looking ahead to what’s next,” she said.
“It’s a huge summer. I’ve got half an eye on the European Championships, I think that will be one of my main goals for next year.”