CLAIMING a national cross country title was the crowning glory of a glittering season for a talented North-East athlete.

India Pentland, a member of Darlington Harriers, cruised to victory in the under-17s women’s title over five kilometres at the British Championships in Loughborough.

The Carmel College student followed up that success by overcoming muddy conditions to win the English Schools National Cross Country Championships for senior girls in Leeds.

India, who has just turned 17, had enjoyed a great track season last year, clinching a silver medal over 1500 metres at the English Under-17 Championships in Bedford. She ended the season ranked third in the UK at 1500 metres and 10th at 800 metres.

But this season has been even better, starting with routine wins for India at the North East Cross Country Championships and the Durham Schools’ Cross-Country Championships. That was followed by victory at the Northern Cross-Country Championships at Pontefract in January.

After a narrow defeat in the senior English Cross Country Championships, she fulfilled her promise by winning the British championship and English schools’ title.

David Lowes, her coach for the last two years, said: “India is developing well not only physiologically but also in relation to her confidence and race tactics. I've seen a much better mind-set come to the fore.

“The plan has always been to nurture her slowly and this will, hopefully, continue over the next transitional block that will take her from a promising youngster to a force to reckon with as a senior athlete. She has a rare talent in that she can run well on all surfaces and in all conditions and she is a joy to work with.”

India said: "I’m very happy with how my cross country season has gone. English Schools and British Championships were both tough races in challenging conditions against the fastest runners in England and the UK so I’m delighted to have won both. My coach and I had a plan at the outset and it’s great that all my winter training paid off in the end.”

Darlington Harriers’ chairman Mark Tallon said: “We are are delighted that after 31 years we have finally had another winner of the English Schools Cross Country and we are looking forward to finding ways to help support India with the progression of her promising career.”