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UK Athletics

Euro Champ Twell to race at Stormont

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19 December 2007


Athletics Northern Ireland today announced that European Junior Cross Country champion Stephanie Twell (Aldershot, Farnham and District AC) and World Road Running Championships silver medallist Patrick Makau (Birchfield Harriers / Kenya) will be competing in the Belfast International Cross Country, the third meeting in this winter’s UK Cross Challenge series, on Saturday 5 January 2008 at Stormont Estate. This event is the 31st running of Ireland’s most prestigious cross country event and is sponsored by Mizuno.


Just over a week ago in Toro, Spain, 18-year-old Twell sparked the biggest-yet medal haul by a Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland team at SPAR European Cross Country Championships when she became the first athlete to retain the junior women’s title. Twell, who won her first title in Italy a year ago, refused to be overawed by her pre-race favourite tab and relentlessly applied pressure on her opposition from an early stage to dominate the event and record a 9-seconds victory. Her commanding front-running inspired her team-mates, who retained the team title by recording a victory  by 36 points over second place Russia.


Afterwards Twell said: “This was special because I’ve made history. I will also be eligible for next year’s championships in Ostend.” Twell’s determination and ability have attracted comparisons with world marathon record holder Paula Radcliffe, who has frequently used the Belfast International in her cross country campaigns in the past.


The GB men heading for Stormont next month can expect a tough test from Makau, who took the World Road Running Championships silver medal in Italy two months ago only three seconds adrift of winner Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea. This achievement came as no surprise as the 22-year-old has enjoyed a number of personal bests this year. In early January he took third place at Stormont behind Ugandan winner Moses Kiser. He quickly followed this with a PB in the Lahore 10km (28.03) and in April he recorded an eye catching half marathon win in Berlin of 58 minutes 56 seconds, the second fastest in the world this year.


Previous winners of the Belfast International meeting, which started way back in 1977, have included World and Olympic champions – among them Paula Radcliffe, Paul Tergat, Steve Cram, Steve Ovett, John Tracey, Khalid Skah, Sergey Lebid, Liz McColgan and Brendan Foster.


Julian Moorhouse of Mizuno Corporation (UK) commented: “The Belfast Cross Challenge is one of the leading cross country events in the UK and Mizuno are delighted to continue our association with the event. We are well positioned as a leading global sports brand to help develop all forms of running and cross country is often the first introduction to running for youngsters”.