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hickey to defend cardiff title

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Adam Hickey

16 January 2015

Blackweir Fields in Cardiff will play host to the second leg of the British Athletics Cross Challenge series on Sunday 18 January. Following on from the first leg in Liverpool, athletes will have their eyes on winning valuable points to add to their Cross Challenge totals ahead of the events in Milton Keynes and Birmingham over the next two months.

Last year’s champion in Cardiff, Adam Hickey (coach: Eamonn Martin), will headline the senior men’s field in Cardiff. The Southend athlete arrives in South Wales off the back of ninth place finish at the European Cross Country Championships in Bulgaria last month, and a thrilling sprint finish with teammate Jonathan Taylor (Gordon Surtees) at the Great Edinburgh XCountry last weekend. He will once again take on last year’s second place finisher Dewi Griffiths (Kevin Evans), with the Welshman racing for the first time since the Commonwealth Games last August after a spell on the side-lines.

Others to watch out for this Sunday will be GB & NI international from the 2008 World Cross Country Championships John Beattie (Gavin Smith) as well as Aldershot Farnham & District’s Joshua Grace (Mick Woods). Cardiff athlete Jonathan Hopkins (Ridley Griffith), who finished seventh at the event last year, will also feature over the 10.3km course, with Alex Tovey (Conrad Milton), Dean Lacy (Mark Newell) and Frank Baddick (George Gandy) all in contention for the top prizes on offer in South Wales.

2014 European Cross Country senior women’s team gold medallist Lily Partridge (Woods) will be one of the favourites for the women’s race in South Wales. An eleventh place finish in Samokov contributed to the team’s success and she followed this performance up with a seventh place finish at the Great Edinburgh XCountry last weekend. The 23 year-old was fourth at Liverpool in the first leg of the Cross Challenge series and will be going for maximum points in Cardiff.

GB & NI mountain runner Emma Clayton (Andrew Henderson) has enjoyed a good cross country season so far and after her first call-up to a British cross country team for last weekend’s event in Edinburgh, the Leeds City athlete will be looking to challenge for the victory in Cardiff. Maryse Haynes (Bud Baldaro), a GB & NI U23 team silver medallist in Bulgaria will also line up in the senior women’s race alongside Kendal’s Rebecca Robinson, Sarah Tunstall and Katie Brough (Andrew Carter).

The junior age groups will be highly contested with Welshman Jac Hopkins (Kevin Tobin) seeking to maintain his recent good form on home soil in the U20 men’s race. After placing as the highest ranked GB & NI athlete in the junior men’s races at the European Cross and the Great Edinburgh XCountry, he will go into the race high on confidence. Jack Crabtree (Norman Poole) who finished in tenth place finish at Sefton Park in November, and the overall U17 Cross Challenge series winner in 2013/14 Iolo Hughes (Andrew Walling) will be others to watch out for.

The U20 women’s race will feature a large Welsh contingent with Browen Owen (Henderson) and Olivia Gwynn (Tobin) just two of the names featuring on Sunday. Young cross country and triathlon starlet Ben Dijkstra will compete in the U17 men’s event but will face a strong challenge from Bingley’s Emile Cairess who finished second in the U17 event at Sefton Park. Birtley’s Kate Waugh (Thomas Millmore), a winner at the Cross Challenge event in Antrim last year, will be targeting a similar result this weekend over the 4.2km course.

For more details on the British Athletics Cross Challenge in Cardiff, click here.

Follow British Athletics for live updates on Twitter this Sunday @BritAthletics.