Lancashire Leads Brits At European Cross Country Championships

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Tom Lancashire (coach: Steve Vernon) has been named captain of the British Athletics’ team for the European Cross Country Championships on Sunday 13 December and will lead the 36-strong team in Hyères, France.

On receiving the call to confirm his selection as captain, Lancashire commented: “I was a bit shocked really; I never expected to be chosen. I’m very happy to be selected and I know I have a lot of experience competing on an international level so I will be able to share that with my teammates.

“We are always in with a good shout of winning medals. Down all the age-groups, we have always traditionally had strong teams. From a senior men’s perspective, it is going to be interesting – it is very strong at the top end of the race. We have good depth in the team with plenty of experience so if we could get a team medal that would be really great.”

On what he may add to his speech on Saturday: “I’ve got a lot of experience racing at the top level, not only in cross country but on the track as well. I can talk about my approach to competing against the best guys in the world so that is where I have the most to offer the team.”

The Bolton athlete will join Trials winner Ross Millington (Vernon), Dewi Griffiths (Kevin Evans), Jonny Hay (Mick Woods), Adam Hickey (Eamonn Martin) and Jonathan Taylor (Gordon Surtees) in the senior men’s team competing over the 10,117m course in the south of France.

2014 European Cross Country Champion Gemma Steel (John Nuttall) will spearhead the senior women’s team who will aim to regain their title from Samokov. Last year’s silver medallist Kate Avery (Tony Simmons) will once again be battling to get back on the podium after an impressive run in Liverpool a fortnight ago. Steph Twell (Woods) will make her tenth appearance at the championships, a few weeks after winning a test event on this course in Hyères.

Alongside the senior teams, there will be a full complement on men’s and women’s U23 and junior squads. Laura Muir (Andy Young) will be one to watch in the U23 race as the British team seek to top the medal table for the 13th consecutive year.

The junior women’s race will offer Britain the first opportunity to win their 50th individual or team gold medal in the championships history. With four members of the team making their European cross debuts, it will be an exciting opportunity for the young squad.

Lancashire shares his words of wisdom for the debutants on the team: “I would tell them not to be overawed by the occasion; it is like any other race. The competitors on the other teams are in exactly the same position. You have to approach it exactly the same, you have all deserved to be here on merit so you have earned it.”

Alice Wright (Joe Franklin) has withdrawn from the women’s U23 team due to an Achilles injury and has been replaced by Calli Thackery (Joe Franklin).

The event will be live on the BBC Red Button from 09:25 on Sunday 13 December with a highlights package at 16:15 on BBC Two later in the afternoon.

The British Athletics’ team for the European Cross Country Championships in Hyères, France on Sunday 13 December 2015:

Senior men
Dewi Griffiths (Kevin Evans)
Jonny Hay (Mick Woods)
Adam Hickey (Eamonn Martin)
Tom Lancashire (Steve Vernon)
Ross Millington (Steve Vernon)
Jonathan Taylor (Gordon Surtees)

Senior women
Kate Avery (Tony Simmons)
Lauren Howarth (Steve Vernon)
Sonia Samuels (Self-coached)
Gemma Steel (John Nuttall)
Steph Twell (Mick Woods)
Elle Vernon (Steve Vernon)

U23 men
Jacob Allen (Mick Woods)
Jonathan Davies (Rob McKim)
Richard Goodman (Mick Woods)
Henry Pearce (George Gandy)
Marc Scott (Steve Gulley)
Luke Traynor (Dudley Walker)

U23 women
Beth Hawling (Matt Richards)
Laura Muir (Andy Young)
Jenny Nesbitt (David Walker)
Madeleine Murray (John Lees)
Rebecca Murray (Alex Stanton)
Calli Thackery (Joe Franklin)

Junior men
Ben Dijkstra (Alan Maddocks)
Oliver Fox (Richard Llewellyn Eaton)
Mahamed Mahamed (Peter Haynes)
Chris Olley (Mark Hookway)
Joe Steward (Harry Kelly)
Alex Yee (Kenneth Pike)

Junior women
Grace Baker (Mick Woods)
Bobby Clay (Rob Denmark)
Amy Griffiths (Mick Woods)
Harriet Knowles-Jones (Paul Roden)
Sabrina Sinha (Peter Mullervy)
Mari Smith (William Alan Winter)