British Athletics has today announced a full team of 40 athletes selected to represent the country at the European Cross Country Championships in Samorin, Slovakia on Sunday 10 December. The team comprises of six full squads for the senior, U23 and U20 races as well as four athletes representing Great Britain & Northern Ireland in the senior mixed relay for the first time.
Leading the way in the entries for the senior women’s squad is trials winner, Emelia Gorecka (coach: Chris Thompson), who wowed the crowds at Sefton Park last weekend as she achieved a popular comeback win after injury over the last couple of years. The Aldershot Farnham & District athlete is a two-time U20 gold medallist at these championships from 2011 & 2013.
She will be joined by 2014 European cross champion Gemma Steel (Liz Nuttall) who was third at the trials event as well as an experienced quartet of Lily Partridge, Charlotte Taylor (Helen Lehman-Winters), Steph Twell (Mick Woods) and Stockport’s Elle Vernon.
Ben Connor (Steve Vernon) earned an impressive win on Merseyside at the weekend, with a gutsy performance that saw him earn a call-up for the second consecutive year, having been an integral part of the gold-medal winning senior men’s team in 2016.
He will be joined by debutants Alex Teuten (Roderick Lock) and Sam Stabler (Rob Denmark) who were second and third respectively at the trials, whilst a trio of athletes with pedigree at these championships in the past, Dewi Griffiths (Kevin Evans), Tom Lancashire (Steve Cram) and Andy Butchart (Terrance Mahon) complete the team.
Mahamed Mahamed (Peter Haynes) and Jess Judd (Mick Judd) – stars of the Cross Challenge series so far this year – headline the U23 teams in Slovakia after impressive displays amongst the senior runners on Saturday. Judd was part of the gold medal winning U23 women’s team at last year’s event and will be joined by Amy Griffiths (Rob Denmark) and Phoebe Law (Mick Woods) who were also part of that squad in Chia last December.
Trials winners Ben Dijkstra (Alan Maddocks) and Harriet Knowles-Jones (Paul Roden) will lead the U20 squads, the latter winning medals in the age-group in her last two appearances at these Europeans. She won silver in 2015 and backing that up with a bronze in Italy; she will be looking to complete the hat-trick in her final year as an U20.
The senior mixed relay will take place for the first time ever at the European Athletics edition of the event, and Britain will have a strong quartet representing the country. With a first leg for the female athlete around 1800m with the latter three legs roughly around 1500m, the quartet selected is Cameron Boyek (David Lowes), Melissa Courtney (Rob Denmark), Charlie Grice (Jon Bigg) and Sarah McDonald (David Harmer). The race order will be confirmed closer to the day of the race.
Team Leader, Rob Denmark, commented on the selection:
“The trials showcased some real quality and as a result, we are able to select an incredibly strong British team to go to Samorin for these prestigious championships. We are taking some experienced athletes who are proven championship performers but I am pleased to see a number of athletes step up at the trials and earn their place on the team.
“We have a strong tradition of success at these championships and I’m looking forward to us challenging for medals both individually and as a team.”
Chris Jones, National Endurance Co-ordinator for Welsh Athletics had this to say regarding the Welsh seletions:
"I am delighted to see a number of younger athletes stepping up to this level. Off the back of the ongoing Endurance Development Programme in Wales, it is great to see no less than three Welsh Junior athletes making a British Team.
Dewi continues to show that he really is a top-class endurance athlete, securing qualification off the back of a fantastic Marathon debut. It is great for Welsh athletes to be selected across the entire programme of events with Melissa in the Mixed Relay too."
The British team for the European Cross Country Championships in Samorin, Slovakia on Sunday 10 December:
Andrew Butchart (Terrance Mahon, Central AC)
Ben Connor (Steve Vernon, Derby)
Dewi Griffiths (Kevin Evans, Swansea Harriers)
Tom Lancashire (Steve Cram, Bolton)
Sam Stabler (Rob Denmark, Leicester)
Alex Teuten (Roderick Lock, Southampton)
Emelia Gorecka (Chris Thompson, Aldershot Farnham & District)
Lily Partridge (Aldershot Farnham & District)
Gemma Steel (Liz Nuttall, Charnwood)
Charlotte Taylor (Helen Lehman-Winters, Nene Valley)
Steph Twell (Mick Woods, Aldershot Farnham & District)
Elle Vernon (Stockport)
Patrick Dever (Andy Bibby, Preston)
Daniel Jarvis (Mick Woods, Liverpool Harriers)
Mahamed Mahamed (Peter Haynes, Southampton)
Chris Olley (Mark Hookway, Tonbridge)
Jack Rowe (Mick Woods, Aldershot Farnham & District)
Joe Steward (Harry Kelly, East Cheshire)
Philippa Bowden (Mick Woods, Aldershot Farnham & District)
Amy-Eloise Neale (Greg Metcalf, Wakefield)
Amy Griffiths (Rob Denmark, Aldershot Farnham & District)
Jess Judd (Mick Judd, Chelmsford)
Phoebe Law (Mick Woods, Kingston & Poly)
Mhairi MacLennan (John Lees, Inverness)
Scott Beattie (Mike Bateman, Morpeth)
Ben Dijkstra (Alan Maddocks, Leicester)
Jake Heyward (James Thie, Cardiff)
William Richardson (Peter Stewart, Birchfield Harriers)
Lachlan Wellington (Vince Stamp, City of Portsmouth)
Matthew Willis (Self-coached, Wrexham AC)
Niamh Brown (Mick Woods, Aldershot Farnham & District)
Cari Hughes (Andy Walling, Swansea)
Harriet Knowles-Jones (Paul Roden, Warrington)
Khahisa Mhlanga (Mick Judd, Chelmsford)
Erin Wallace (Dudley Walker, Giffnock North)
Victoria Weir (Bud Baldaro, City of Plymouth)
Senior Mixed 4x1000m Relay:
Cameron Boyek (David Lowes, Shildon)
Melissa Courtney (Rob Denmark, Shaftesbury Barnet)
Charlie Grice (Jon Bigg, Brighton Phoenix)
Sarah McDonald (David Harmer, Birchfield)