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Twell is European Rising Star

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22 September 2008




Steph Twell has claimed the Waterford Crystal European Athletics Rising Star award after another superb year for the 19-year-old middle distance athlete.


Twell, who is coached by Mick Woods, won the IAAF World Junior Championships 1,500m gold medal in July and follows in the footsteps of her compatriot Jessica Ennis, who took the inaugural  award 12 months ago.


The outstanding year for Twell started in December 2007 when she retained her SPAR European Cross Country Championships junior women's title, the first athlete to perform such a feat.


"That was incredible. To just win one title was fantastic, to defend it and go into the history books is something that seems like a dream," said Twell after coming home nine seconds clear of her nearest rival.


Not turning 20 until next August, she is still young enough to be able to attempt a triple crown at this year's Championships in the Belgian capital of Brussels on December 14.


During the summer, Twell turned her attention to triumphing on the track and she unleashed an stunning last lap in the World Junior Championships 1,500m to hit the front with 200m to go and cross the line in 4:15.09.


"I can now go out and be a great senior athlete because of what I learned here (in Bydgoszcz, Poland). I came away from here learning a lot, how to race more tactically, be strong at racing and just don't be dictated to by the Africans, but just to show them that I am here to ruffle a few feathers too," explained Twell.


Five days after her victory in Poland, she clocked 4:05.83 at the Golden League meeting in Paris for the fastest time by a junior women in the world this year and it also earned her a place on the plane to Beijing.


At the Olympics, Twell again proved herself to be the top teenager over the distance as she ran 4:06.68 to finish sixth in her heat, just missing out on a place in the final although she left many more experienced runners trailing in her wake.


However, Twell is convinced her day will come, perhaps in four years time on home soil when London hosts the Olympics.


"This is a whole life package. I live this sport, breathe it, dream it. The plan is to run 1,500m or 5,000m in London, the 5,000m in 2016 and then I'd love to step up to the marathon in 2020," added Twell recently, setting out her long-term ambitions.


The male Waterford Crystal European Athletics Rising Star of 2008 will be announced on Tuesday.