Great Britain eye top spot again

Great Britain Team
European Athletics

Great Britain has topped the medal table for the last five years and will aim to do so again in Belgrade.

The athletes from Great Britain and Northern Ireland will look to maintain their incredible record at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Belgrade, Serbia, on Sunday 8 December.

The team has topped the medal table for the last five years of the event and in Budapest almost 12 months ago every member of the 36-strong squad left with a medal.

Britain have once more named 36 athletes for Belgrade, after winning 10 medals in Hungary as they achieved two golds, three silvers and five bronze.

Their victories came in the women’s under-23 race with Jess Coulson and the junior women’s team event and in Belgrade the seniors will be led by Andy Vernon and Gemma Steel who won their respective trial races in Liverpool on Saturday.

Vernon was part of the British squad which took team silver behind Spain last year and once more it includes Tom Farrell who was fourth in the individual race in 30:14, just missing out on the top three as Italy’s Daniele Meucci beat him into third by 0.01.

Emelia Gorecka, 19, will attempt to win a fourth consecutive under-20 women’s medal. She has finished third, first and second at the last three championships and is aiming to regain the title she won in Velenje in 2011 as she bows out of the juniors.

“I would like to go back to first and end on a high,” said Gorecka. “This will be my fourth European Cross Country Championship as a junior which not many people are able to do.”

Charlotte Purdue, a double SPAR European Cross Country Championships medalist as an under-20, returns after a two-and-a-half year absence and is joined in the under-23 team by Kate Avery who finished third at the NCAA Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, Indiana, on Saturday.

Neil Black, British Athletics Performance Director said: “As a team we have a great record at these championships in recent years and I am confident that the athletes selected will continue that in Belgrade.

“The importance of these championships is reflected in the fact that we have selected full teams with a good mix of experienced world-class athletes and younger developing athletes.

The team will have a great chance of success and will gain valuable experience for the future competitions, he concluded.”

The full Great Britain and Northern Ireland team is:

Senior Men: Tom Farrell, Keith Gerrard, Adam Hickey, Charlie Hulson, Frank Tickner, Andy Vernon.

Senior Women: Julia Bleasdale, Katie Brough, Lauren Deadman, Lauren Howarth, Gemma Steel, Stephanie Twell.

Under-23 Men: Luke Caldwell, Callum Hawkins, Jonathan Hay, Richard Goodman, Jack Goodwin, Dewi Griffiths.

Under-23 Women: Jessica Andrews, Rhona Auckland, Kate Avery, Lily Partridge, Charlotte Purdue, Laura Weightman.

Junior Boys: Michael Callegari, Jack Crabtree, Jonathan Davies, Zak Miller, Matthew Shirling, Alex Short.

Junior Girls: Bobby Clay, Jessica Gibbon, Emelia Gorecka, Amy Griffiths, Georgia Taylor-Brown, Lydia Turner.