Women's under-23 preview

Women's under-23 preview
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Will it be another duel between Great Britain's Emelia Gorecka and Serbia's Amela Terzic in Samokov on Sunday?

Terzic faces Gorecka on the cross country stage again

Turning the clock back to the junior women’s race at the 2012 SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Budapest and the top two places on the podium were taken by Amela Terzic and Emelia Gorecka.

It is very possible history might repeat itself in Samokov in this under-23 race, but in which order?

Then, Terzic, now 21, beat Gorecka, now 20, by eight seconds as she won in 13:29 and what could end up being a head-to-head between the pair on Sunday is a race that is very difficult to call.

Throughout her short career - it is hard to believe Serbian Terzic is still only 21 because she has achieved so much - there have been gold medals at every level.

Since winning the 3000m at the European Youth Olympic Festival in Tampere in 2009, Terzic has consistently triumphed.

After her Budapest victory, she moved to this under-23 race at these championships a year ago and made an equally impressive debut to finish second in 19:46, just six seconds behind the Netherlands’ Sifan Hassan.

Both Terzic and Gorecka spoke at the press conference ahead of the championships last year in Belgrade.
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Both Terzic and Gorecka spoke at the press conference ahead of the championships last year in Belgrade.



Now Terzic returns with all the experience of this standard of racing but she faces one of the greatest success stories of the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Great Britain’s Gorecka.

Gorecka has six gold medals from the event, with individual junior glory in 2011 in Velenje and Belgrade plus team triumphs in those years along with 2010 and 2012.

In the British trials in Liverpool she finished second in the senior race behind Gemma Steel and it will be fascinating to see what challenge she gives Terzic.

Here's Gorecka competing in Liverpool:

Britain, led then by Charlotte Purdue who was third, were the overwhelming under-23 women’s team champions last year as they scored just 19 points, to triumph by 35 from Russia with the Netherlands in third with 70.

In a race just over 6km, it is a combination of speed and endurance on a course that falls and rises and Russia will be in with a good medal chance again.

At their helm is Gulshat Fazlitdinova, the 10,000m gold medallist from the European Athletics U23 Championships in Tampere in 2013.

She is joined by, among others, Yekaterina Sokolenko, a solid 5000m runner who won 3000m steeplechase silver in Tampere, while Viktoriya Khapilina, of the Ukraine, knows all about Fazlitdinova as she finished second behind her in Finland.

Belarus, Germany, Ireland, Portugal, Romania, Spain and Turkey also all have squads big enough to make the team podium.

DISTANCE: 6.2km (Three short laps, and three long laps).

START TIME: 10:32 am CET.