European Cross Country Championships preview

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The Great Britain team will be attempted to improve upon 2013’s five gold medals at the European Cross Country Championships in Bulgaria this Sunday.

For the last six years the team representing British Athletics has topped the medal table and the 2014 team looks to have the credentials to continue the rich vein of form.

Gemma Steel has featured on the podium in her last two appearances, including silver in 2013, and will start tomorrow’s race as one of the favourites in the 7913m senior women’s event after a dominant performance at the British trials. 

The Loughborough based Steel will face stiff competition from France’s Sophie Duarte who beat her by five seconds at last year’s European championships.

Also expected to mount a challenge for the title are Portugal’s Sara Moreira, third in November’s New York City Marathon, and Ireland’s two-time champion Fionnuala Britton who was fourth last year.

The remainder of the senior women’s team looks strong, featuring NCAA Champion Kate Avery, Lily Partridge, Sonia Samuels, former European junior champion Stephanie Twell and Elle Vernon.

Prospects U20 and U23 women’s races also look good with Jessica Judd and Emelia Gorecka both in good form.

Judd made her return to the cross-country scene to claim victory by a large margin at the British trials after a long absence following a strong season on the track in which saw her make the finals of both the European and Commonwealth 800m finals in the summer.

Gorecka steps up to the U23 team after winning the U20 title in two of the last three years.

In the men’s event Turkish duo Ali Kaya and Polat Kemboi Arikan will both be looking to cause a stir and upset last year’s victor Alemayehu Bezabeh of Spain.

Kaya, who won the U20 event in 2013, took bronze behind Britain’s Mo Farah and Andy Vernon in the 10,000m at this summer’s European Championships whilst compatriot Arikan finished fourth.

Bezabeh will hope for a repeat of 2013 where we beat Arikan by 21 seconds as Spain claimed the senior men’s team crown with 31 points ahead of Belgium with 49 and Great Britain with 60.

Vernon, who took bronze last year, is out with an injury and has not featured in this year’s cross-country season.

In his absence, Callum Hawkins and Andrew Butchart claimed a Scottish one-two at the British trials in Liverpool. Hawkins will run in the U23 event this Sunday whereas Butchart will be joined by Luke Caldwell, Adam Hickey, Tom Lancashire, Ross Millington and Tom Wade.

You can watch the event live on the BBC Red button from 0810 – 1325 GMT or online here.

Full team:

Senior Men

Andrew Butchart (Derek Easton)

Luke Caldwell (Nic Bideau)

Adam Hickey (Eamonn Martin)

Tom Lancashire (Steve Vernon)

Ross Millington (Steve Vernon)

Tom Wade (Geoff Watkin)

Senior Women

Kate Avery (Tony Simmons)

Lily Partridge (Mick Woods)

Sonia Samuels (Self-coached)

Gemma Steel (John Nuttall)

Stephanie Twell (Mick Woods)

Elle Vernon (Steve Vernon)

U23 Men

Jonathan Davies (Rob McKim)

William Gray (Bud Baldaro)

Callum Hawkins (Robert Hawkins)

Jonathan Hay (Mick Woods)

Charlie Hulson (Paul Roden)

Marc Scott (Steve Gulley)

U23 Women

Rhona Auckland (Joyce Hogg)

Emelia Gorecka (Mick Woods)

Maryse Haynes (Bud Baldaro)

Kate Holt (Alan Morris)

Rebecca Murray (Alex Stanton)

Alice Wright (David Walker)

U20 Men

Elliot Bowker (Andrew Carter)

Peter Chambers (Mike Fleet)

Jonathan Glen (Mark Pollard)

Jac Hopkins (Kevin Tobin)

Michael Vennard (Andrew Carter)

Kieran Wood (Mark Vile)

U20 Women

Amy Griffiths (Mick Woods)

Jessica Judd (George Gandy)

Phoebe Law (Richard Holt)

Georgina Outten (Bud Baldaro)

Becky Straw (Bud Baldaro)

Lydia Turner (Thomas Millmore)

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First published on: 13 December, 2014 12:00 am

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