Six Scots have been picked to represent Team GB and NI at the Euro Cross in Bulgaria.
It is terrific compliment to the endurance running scene in Scotland currently with three Seniors, two U23s and one U20 athlete selected by British Athletics.
Six out of an overall GB team of 36 athletes for the event in Samokov, Bulgaria, represents 16.66 percent and only once in the past 15 years has the tally been topped for Scots at the Euro Cross, with seven having featured back in 2009.
In terms of Senior athletes, the call-ups for Central AC’s Andrew Butchart, Luke Caldwell (Dorking and Mole Valley AC) and Steph Twell (Aldershot, Farnham and District) for Samokov on December 14 reflect well, too, with ‘retention’ such a key issue.
Since 1996 there has only been ONE Scot involved in the Senior Men’s race when Andrew Lemoncello featured in that 2009 group.
Euro Trial winner Kilbarchan AAC’s Callum Hawkins and Rhona Auckland (Banchory Stonehaven/Edinburgh Uni), who was third in Liverpool, look to have individual podium potential in their age group while Inverclyde AC are celebrating Jonny Glen’s inclusion at U20 after he took the sixth slot in the GB selection.
With record numbers at the East District XC Champs this weekend as well, there’s plenty to be encouraged about for those with athletics in Scotland at heart.
‘It is really pleasing that we have this kind of representation in Team GB and NI for the Euro Cross,’ said Rodger Harkins, scottishathletics director of coaching.
‘I was in Liverpool and there were some very fine individual performances. For Callum Hawkins and Andrew Butchart to finish 1-2 in the Senior Men’s really was excellent and Luke Caldwell made it three Scots in the top four.
‘Rhona Auckland had another very good run in the Women’s race and will race alongside Emelia Gorecka at U23 level in Bulgaria. That looks promising for the GB team in that category.
‘I believe for Steph Twell this is a seventh appearance at the Euro Cross which shows tremendous consistency across a number of years as she has moved up from Junior to Senior. And we are pleased for Jonny Glen, as well, to make the Men’s U20 team.
‘I feel athletes across the country will be encouraged and it is no exaggeration to say that when people win GB international vests they become ‘role models’ at their clubs.
‘I warmly congratulate the coaches, clubs, parents and ‘support teams’ of the athletes involved. Volunteer coaches and helpers across the whole spectrum of our clubs can share in this kind of news – because they are making an important contribution to create the right environment for athletes to prosper.’
The GB and NI team will be looking to replicate their performance in Belgrade 12 months ago, which saw them top the medal table with nine medals including five gold.
Martin Rush, the team leader for the GB & NI team in Samokov said: ‘There were a number of promising performances in last weekend’s Liverpool Cross Challenge and I’m sure with the right preparation over the course of the next two weeks, we’ll see a strong showing in Samokov.
‘Belgrade was a very successful championships for the team last year and we will be looking to continue GB and NI’s recent success at the European Cross Country Championships in Bulgaria.’
GB and NI team for the European Cross Country Championships in Samokov, Bulgaria on Sunday 14 December:
Senior Men: Andrew Butchart, Luke Caldwell, Adam Hickey, Tom Lancashire, Ross Millington, Tom Wade.
Senior Women: Kate Avery, Lily Partridge, Sonia Samuels,Gemma Steel, Stephanie Twell, Elle Vernon
U23 Men: Jonathan Davies, William Gray,Callum Hawkins, Jonathan Hay, Charlie Hulson,Marc Scott
U23 Women: Rhona Auckland, Emelia Gorecka, Maryse Haynes,Kate Holt, Rebecca Murray, Alice Wright
U20 Men: Elliot Bowker, Peter Chambers, Jonathan Glen, Jac Hopkins, Michael Vennard, Kieran Wood
U20 Women: Amy Griffiths, Jessica Judd, Phoebe Law, Georgina Outten, Becky Straw, Lydia Turner