30th November 2010


30 November 2010

European champion Hayley Yelling-Higham (coach: Conrad Milton) will defend her title at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Albufeira, Portugal on Sunday 12 December 2010 as one of a 36-strong Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland team.

Yelling-Higham, who dominated the senior women’s race in Dublin 12 months ago, is joined by McCain  Liverpool Cross Challenge and European Trials winner Louise Damen (self-coached) and former three-time European junior cross country champion Stephanie Twell (coach: Mick Woods).

Andy Vernon (coach: Nick Anderson), winner of the men’s Trial and a former European Cross Country under-23 silver medallist, heads up the senior men’s team in Portugal while Nick Goolab (coach: Steve Sharp) and James Wilkinson (coach: Phil Townsend) – individual junior medallists in Dublin in 2009 -  step up to the under-23 category.

Wilkinson, second overall in the senior/under-23 combined Trial race within the McCain Liverpool Challenge, is a realistic medal contender on this occasion as is Aldershot’s Emma Pallant (coach: Mick Woods) who makes a welcome return to international cross country action in the women’s under-23 team following her Trials victory; she’ll be hoping to match her team gold as a junior in 2008 with an impressive individual performance.

A number of athletes will win international vests for the first time in the full team, including senior Gemma Steel (coach: Roy Stowell) who has been in outstanding form in recent weeks, and a talented junior men’s quintet including Tonbridge duo 16-year-old Robbie Farnham-Rose (coach: Mark Hookway) and Andy Combs (coach: Mark Hookway/Mick Woods).

Luton’s John McDonnell (coach: John Stoker), who will also make his Aviva GB & NI team debut, will spearhead the junior men’s European Cross Country medal challenge following his brilliant Trials win in Liverpool.

Kate Avery (coach: Bob Ashwood), junior women’s bronze medallist in 2009, will be targeting a second successive podium finish while Aldershot’s UK junior 10,000m record holder and dominant European Cross Country Trials winner Charlotte Purdue (coach: Mick Woods) – individual silver medallist two years ago – should be a gold medal contender in an outstanding group of athletes.

Ian Stewart, Aviva GB & NI Team Leader said: “We won 12 medals in Dublin last year and every athlete returned home with a medal for the second successive year. We’ve selected a team that includes a mix of youth and experience for Portugal and we’re optimistic that we can go out there and win even more medals this time around. We’ve picked the strongest possible teams with that in mind.”




Mark Draper (Andy Hobdell) – Bedford & County; Tom Humphries (Phil Champ) – Cannock & Staffs AC; Ryan McLeod (John Nuttall) – Tipton Harriers; Phil Nicholls (Bud Baldaro) – Tipton Harriers; Frank Tickner (Clive Thomas) – Wells AC; Andy Vernon (Nick Anderson) – AFD


Helen Clitheroe (John Nuttall) – Preston Harriers; Louise Damen (self-coached) – Winchester & District; Hatti Dean (Bud Baldaro] – Hallamshire Harriers; Gemma Steel (Roy Stowell) – Charnwood AC; Stephanie Twell (Mick Woods) – AFD; Hayley Yelling-Higham (Conrad Milton) – Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow


Nick Goolab (Steve Sharp) – Belgrave Harriers; Mitch Goose (Tim/Pauline Ash) – City of Norwich; Ashley Harrell (Tim/Pauline Ash) – City of Norwich; Derek Hawkins (Lawrie Spence) – Kilbarchan AC; Ricky Stevenson (Steve Shaw) – New Marske Harriers; James Wilkinson (Phil Townsend) – Leeds City AC


Imogen Ainsworth (Keith Brackstone) – Bristol & West AC; Elspeth Curran (Lawrie Spence) – Kilbarchan AC; Natalie Gray (Bill Foster/Joe Franklin) – Medway & Maidstone; Emma Pallant (Mick Woods) – AFD; Emily Pidgeon (Andy Hobdell) – Stroud & District; Sarah Waldron (Dave Sunderland) – Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers


Andy Combs (Mark Hookway/Mick Woods) – Tonbridge AC; Ben Connor (Jerry Hall) – Derby AC; Robbie Farnham-Rose (Mark Hookway) – Tonbridge AC; Jonny Hay (Mick Woods) – AFD; John McDonnell (John Stoker) – Luton AC; Ryan Saunders (Mick Woods) – Bournemouth


Kate Avery (Bob Ashwood) – Shildon AC; Emelia Gorceka (Mick Woods) – AFD; Annabel Gummow (Chris Wooldridge) – Bristol & West; Lily Partridge (Liz McColgan) – AFD; Georgia Peel (Mick Woods) – AFD; Charlotte Purdue (Mick Woods) – AFD