2nd December 2008
Champions Selected For Euro Cross
02 December 2008
Two former champions and one defending champion have been selected to lead the medal charge for the Norwich Union Great Britain & Northern Ireland Team at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Brussels, Belgium on 14 December.
The 2006 men’s champion Mo Farah (Newham & Essex) has returned from a six week training trip in Ethiopia last Friday and will be GB & NI’s big hope in the senior men’s race.
In the senior women’s race, 34 year old Hayley Yelling (Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow), who memorably took this title in 2004, just months after fractionally missing out on a team place at the Athens Olympic Games, will lead an experienced senior women’s team.
World junior 1500m champion Stephanie Twell (Aldershot, Farnham & District) heads up a strong junior women’s team. Last year, the 19 year old made history by becoming the first athlete ever to defend the junior women’s title at this event. This year, she will be looking to extend the sequence further still, as she targets her third successive victory in her last ever championship race as a junior athlete.
Club-mate Charlotte Purdue won bronze behind Twell in 2007 and is another medal contender this time around. Yet another Aldershot, Farnham & District runner Andy Vernon will travel to Brussels with reason for optimism. The 22 year old has the form and the pedigree.
He won the senior men’s race in Saturday’s UK trials in Liverpool, he holds a bronze medal as a junior from this event in 2005 and last year he added a bronze medal from the U23 race. He will spearhead the men’s challenge in the men’s U23 race.
UK Athletics Senior Performance Co-ordinator and Team Leader Spencer Barden said: “In recent years we have become the dominant force at the European Cross Country Championships. Last year, five of the six GB & NI teams won team medals, including three gold. This year we will be looking to build on our past performances and once again top the medal table with individual and team success.”
Mo Farah, who was denied the opportunity to defend his title last year due to a groin injury, said: “I think I am in fairly good shape, it is difficult to know as I have just come down from altitude, so I won’t feel the benefit for another couple of weeks. Track is where it really matters, but cross country is very important to me too.
“I have always tried to compete at this event, going right back to being a junior. Last year I was injured, so I’m one step ahead of where I was going into this year. I think we have a good team – a young team – and if we all run to our potential, then we can have a successful championships.”
GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND TEAM
Mo Farah (Newham & Essex); Lee Merrien (Guernsey Island); Scott Overall (Blackheath & Bromley); Michael Skinner (Blackheath & Bromley); Frank Tickner (Wells City); Phil Wicks (Belgrave Harriers)
Helen Clitheroe (Preston Harriers); Louise Damen (Winchester & District AC); Hatti Dean (Hallamshire Harriers); Laura Kenney (Royal Sutton); Gemma Miles (Kendal); Hayley Yelling (Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow)
John Beattie (Winchester & District); Alex Derricott (Staffordshire Moorlands); Keith Gerrard (Newham & Essex); Ben Lindsay (Aldershot, Farnham & District); Tom Russell (Bristol & West); Andy Vernon (Aldershot, Farnham & District)
Hannah England (Oxford City); Susannah Hignett (Bournemouth AC); Stacey Johnson (Cannock & Stafford); Morag MacLarty (Central AC); Katherine Sparke (Woodford Green & Essex Ladies); Sarah Tunstall (Kendal)
Phillip Berntsen (Winchester AC); David Forrester (Sutton St Helens); Nick Goolab (Belgrave Harriers); Mitch Goose (City of Norwich); Ross Murray (Gateshead Harriers); Chris O’Hare (Edinburgh AC)
Lauren Howarth (Leigh Harriers); Emma Pallant (Aldershot, Farnham & District); Laura Park (Ellenborough AC); Emily Pidgeon (Stroud & District); Charlotte Purdue (Aldershot, Farnham & District); Stephanie Twell (Aldershot, Farnham & District)