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World Cross Team

23rd March 2013

Steph Twell (coach: Mick Woods) has targeted a strong finish to the cross country season, as she prepares for the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland on Sunday.

Twell has endured an injury-hit two years after breaking her ankle in February 2011, and the 23 year old is looking forward to putting on the GB & NI vest at the World Cross once again later on today.

“I just want to finish with a smile on my face. I finished 23rd here in 2010 so anywhere around there or better would me amazing - my coach has just said to make sure I finish strong on the last lap. I just want to finish the season on a high and use it as a platform for the track.

"The injury was pretty tough, nothing like I’ve ever experienced before. The scale of the injury was so big – I broke my leg in three places, so it’s the kind of injury you’d get playing a contact sport rather than running. It took so much to even get back walking and I literally forgot how to run it was that bad, but I had some great support along the way."

Despite the long road to recovery, Twell has drawn on significant positives and is now hoping that after her extended spell on the sidelines, she can return to the form that saw her make the GB & NI team for the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008.

“The injury has been beneficial in a number of ways - I’ve been quite retrospective with my running as it’s made me appreciate what I do even more. Before the injury, I was always performing at this level but this championship is even more exciting as I was on the cusp of it – I didn’t know where I’d be coming back.

"I’m enjoying the step by step piece of putting the puzzle back together to hopefully get back to where I was. You can always want to be in better shape, but I’m pleased with where I am at this moment in time. I don’t have expectations, which was the problem last year. I was always expecting and had that anxiety about how fit I needed to be at a specific time of the year and what times I needed to run. I think that was quite limiting mentally, so I really feel I’ve wiped the slate clean.”

Twell, who won the European Junior Cross Country title three years running from 2006, holds good memories of Bydgoszcz, winning 1500m gold there at the World Junior Championships in 2008, and believes that running the course three years ago will stand her in good stead going into tomorrow’s race.

“I’ve had good moments of Bydgoszcz and winning the World Juniors here in 2008 was very special. That was an incredible race because I ran 2:06 for the last 800m and a 59.9 for the last 400m so it was a very happy experience. I ran on this course in 2010, so I’ve got the benefit of knowing the course and I think that will help me in how I exert myself over different parts of the race.

“You don’t get the opportunity to run against Olympic Champions like the Dibaba sisters very often, so I’ve just got to seize that and see that as a stepping stone to the track season.

"Twell’s training partner Emelia Gorecka (Mick Woods) will kick off proceedings at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, and despite being four years her senior, Twell believes Gorecka is just as important to her progression as she is to hers.

“I think we bounce off each other, there’s lots that I can still learn from Emelia and she’s a well-established junior like I was, so I think she’s got enough experience.

“She’s very professional in her own sense and that’s the way Mick coaches us, so I wouldn’t like to say I was a role model, because she’s learning her own path. She can learn things from me, and I can learn things from her.

You can watch the IAAF World Cross Country Championships on Sunday 24th March on BBC 2 and HD from 12pm.