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Big weekend for would-be internationals

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11 January 2008



Athletes aiming for places in three of this winter’s Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland teams – and the next few Olympic Games – will be in action this weekend at the BUPA Great Edinburgh International IAAF Cross Country Permit meeting and the England Athletics Senior and Under-20 Combined Events Open Championships at the EIS Sheffield.


The televised cross country meeting on Saturday is, for officials and organisers as well as many athletes, the major test event for the IAAF World Cross Country Championships to be staged at the same picturesque Holyrood Park venue on 30 March.


The opposition could hardly be stiffer for the home athletes, rightly on a high after their record medal haul at last month’s SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Toro, Spain.


Sisters-in-law Hayley and Liz Yelling plus the double European Junior Champion Stephanie Twell are among the top home athletes in the women’s race against Gele Burka (Ethiopia), who is seeking her third successive victory in Edinburgh, world 5000m silver medallist Vivian Cheruiyot (Kenya) and the World Junior Cross Country Champion Linet Masai (Kenya). The Men’s race features the reigning World Cross Country Champion Zersenay Tadese (Eritrea) against the phenomenon who had won the five previous editions of ‘the world’s toughest foot race’, Kenenisa Bekele (Ethiopia).


For details of the BUPA Great Edinburgh International, please go to event information.


The indoor championships from 10.30am on both Saturday and Sunday will be carefully watched by selectors of the teams for the Senior indoor combined events international against the Czech Republic, France and Spain at the same Sheffield venue on 2 and 3 February and the Under 23 and Under 20 indoor combined events international in France against France and Spain on 1 and 2 March.


These GB&NI teams will be finalised after the Saucony LSAC Indoor Open Meeting at the East Midlands High Performance Centre, Loughborough University, on 19 January but Ed Dunford (Birchfield Harriers), who is pre-selected for the Senior international after ending last season with a Beijing Olympics decathlon B standard, will be among the competitors at Sheffield.


For a fuller preview of the England Athletics Senior and Under-20 Combined Events Open Championships, please go to England Athletics