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bupa great edinburgh xcountry

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Emelia Gorecka

A 36 strong Great Britain and Northern Ireland team, which includes four-time European Cross Country junior medallist Emelia Gorecka making her senior debut, will travel to the picturesque Holyrood Park for the Bupa Great Edinburgh XCountry on Saturday 11 January.

In the first international event since GB & NI topped the medal table at the European Cross Country Championships in Belgrade with nine medals last month, the team will look to regain their title in an international match against the USA and Team Europe in Edinburgh.

GB & NI were victorious in 2012 but narrowly missed out to Team Europe in 2013. However, Team Leader Martin Rush is confident that the British team can perform well in Edinburgh.

He said: “We’ve been able to select strong teams with the majority of our medal winners from Belgrade returning to compete in Edinburgh. I’m sure that the GB & NI team will perform well on the 25th anniversary of the event.

“This is a great opportunity for our athletes to get a taste of international competition and allows younger athletes to continue their progression and make an appropriate step up to the senior ranks.”

A number of those competing in British colours performed well in races over the Christmas period with one of the highlights being European bronze medallist Andy Vernon finishing sixth in a high quality field at the British Athletics Cross Challenge incorporating the IAAF International in Antrim.

At the same event, European Under 23 bronze medallist Charlotte Purdue was fifth in the senior women’s race, one place ahead of Gemma Steel, who was second in the senior race in Belgrade.

Alex Clay was the best of a large group of British athletes competing at the Lotto Cross Cup in Brussels on 22 December as she was victorious in the under 20 women’s race.

Since the squad was first selected in December, three new athletes have been brought into the senior women’s team. Chloe Richardson, Lorna Russell and Rosie Smith  will now represent GB & NI due to the withdrawals of Julia Bleasdale, Lauren Howarth and Freya Ross.

Frank Tickner, who finished 47th in Belgrade, will join the senior men’s team with Keith Gerrard withdrawing. There is one change to the under 20 men’s team as Liam Dee replaces Scott Halsted while the under 20 women’s team remains unchanged.

A strong Scottish contingent will compete on home soil with former world junior 1500m champion Steph Twell and Rhona Auckland, seventh in the under 23 race in Belgrade, lining up in the senior women’s race and Callum Hawkins and Andrew Butchart representing the GB & NI senior men’s team.

Senior European Cross Country Championships medallists Andy Vernon and Gemma Steel will captain the GB & NI team in Edinburgh.

2014 will be the 25th staging of the Great International XCountry event, which has featured some of the world’s best athletes since its inception in 1988. Taking place in the picturesque surroundings of Holyrood Park, the Bupa Great Edinburgh XCountry also features a men’s International 4k and a mass participation 5k, the Bupa Great Winter Run, which will see around 2,500 hardy amateur runners tackle a multi-terrain course ahead of the elite races.

Watch the action from Edinburgh live on BBC1 and BBC1 HD from 13:15-14:45 on Saturday 11 January. Follow @BritishAthletics on Twitter for updates and get involved using #GEXC2014 and #mudisgood.

Full GB & NI team for the Bupa Great Edinburgh XCountry:

Senior Men

Andrew Butchart (Derek Easton)
Luke Caldwell (Robert Russell)
Jack Goodwin (Simon Goodwin)
Dewi Griffiths (Kevin Evans)
Jonathan Hay (Mick Woods)
Callum Hawkins (Robert Hawkins)
Adam Hickey (Eamonn Martin)
Charlie Hulson (Paul Roden)
John McDonnell (John Stoker)
Frank Tickner (Clive Thomas)
Andy Vernon (Nic Bideau)
Steve Vernon (Dave Turnbull)

Senior Women

Jessica Andrews (Woods)
Rhona Auckland (Joyce Hogg)
Katie Brough (Andrew Carter)
Lauren Deadman (Bill Foster)
Emelia Gorecka (Woods)
Lily Partridge (Woods)
Charlotte Purdue (Woods)
Chloe Richardson (Peter Stewart)
Lorna Russell (Nick Anderson)
Rosie Smith (Bryan Mackay)
Gemma Steel (John Nuttall)
Steph Twell (Woods)

Under 20 Men

Jack Crabtree (Norman Poole)
Jamaine Coleman (Andy Bibby)
Liam Dee (Simon Doyle)
Alex George (Paul de-Camps)
Zak Miller (Paul Shaw)
Matthew Shirling (Adrian Webb)

Under 20 Women

Alex Clay (Peter Mullervy)
Bobby Clay (Mullervy)
Jessica Gibbon (Rob McKim)
Amy Griffiths (Woods)
Harriet Knowles-Jones (Russell Tart)
Lydia Turner (Thomas Millmore)