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steel set for title defence at euro cross

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Gemma Steel

12 December 2015

Defending senior women’s champion, Gemma Steel (coach: John Nuttall) took part in the press conference today ahead of the European Cross Country Championships in Hyeres, France on Sunday.

The 30 year-old was triumphant 12 months ago in Samokov after a fierce battle with fellow Briton Kate Avery (Tony Simmons), and is looking to add further silverware to her three individual medals from previous editions of this championship.

Steel told the media: “I’m quite confident and optimistic; I think we can replicate what we did last year (win senior women team gold) as this is a strong team. Steph (Twell) is running really well and Sonia (Samuels) had a good run at the marathon in Berlin so everybody is going from strength to strength and I think that bodes well for the team.”

Steel will be joined by Avery, Lauren Howarth (Steve Vernon), Sonia Samuels (Self-coached), Elle Vernon (Vernon) and Steph Twell (Mick Woods) as they look to retain the team title they won in Samokov, Bulgaria in 2014. However, individual success is also on Steel’s radar.

“It would be really nice to get a medal again, I have to aim high. I’ve won a medal every time bar one championship so I have a good record which I’d like to keep going.”

The Charnwood athlete was victorious at the Trials at the Liverpool Cross Challenge last month and hopes she can build on that performance in the south of France.

“The trials were a good test for me because obviously Kate (Avery) is one of the main challengers like last year. It was nice to get a win and it’s good to know that I’ve got a little bit of an edge but there’s never much between us.”

With the likes of 2011 and 2012 champion Fionnuala McCormack (nee Britton) of Ireland, the French 2013 champion Sophie Duarte and world 1500m and 5000m silver medallist Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands all competing in the event, it will be an exciting contest tomorrow afternoon. 

“Sifan Hassan is running well, so there are lots to look out for. It’s anyone’s race on the day really. I know from last year it all came together for me so we will have to see what happens tomorrow.”

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. Follow @BritAthletics on Twitter for all the updates as they happen.

British Athletics European Cross Country media insert