Welsh athletes set to take on Europe's best

Friday 7th December, 2018

Following an unprecedented three wins out of four races at the trials in Liverpool, eight Welsh athletes have been selected as part of a 40 strong British Athletics’ team to compete at the Spar European Cross-Country Championships in Tilburg, Holland on the 9th of December.

After victories in their respective trial races at the British Athletics Cross Challenge in Liverpool last weekend, Charlotte Arter (Cardiff AAC; Chris Jones), Jake Heyward (Cardiff AAC; James Thie) and Cari Hughes (Swansea Harriers; Andy Walling) will again be looking to lead the team to strong performances on the European stage.

“The performances at the weekend were outstanding. We expected Welsh athletes to secure places on the GB teams, but to get three individual wins was exceptional.” Reflected Chris Jones, National Coach for Welsh Athletics, and Senior Men’s team manager for the Great Britain at the Championships in Tilburg. “I think all of our athletes can be scorers for their GB teams, and all the teams are looking strong as challengers for team medals.”

Cardiff’s Jake Heyward will head the Junior Men’s team in Tilburg after a convincing victory in Liverpool last weekend, as he contends for an individual medal on the European stage once more. Heyward remains undefeated so far this cross country season, and will be hopeful of transferring his gold medal winning performance at the European Junior Outdoor Championships in 2017, on to the cross country next weekend. He’ll have tough competition from junior rival, Jakob Ingebritsen, the Norwegian sensation who took 1500m & 5000m European Senior Gold’s on the track in Berlin earlier this year.

Heyward will be joined by Matt Willis (Wrexham AC), who’ll make his second consecutive appearance at the European Cross-Country Championships after his 14th placed finish in the Junior Men’s race at Samorin, Slovakia last year. Willis finished fourth at the trial race in Liverpool last weekend, with a stunning second half of the race which saw him gain over 15 places in the final few kilometres to secure his spot on the plane to Tilburg.

Cari Hughes will be keen to replicate her winning performance at Liverpool as she heads British Athletics’ Junior Women’s team in Tilburg. Hughes finished 9th in the Junior Women’s race at the European Cross-Country Championships last year and will undoubtedly be looking to better that performance in Holland on 9th December.

Arter was victorious in the Senior Women’s race at Sefton Park last weekend, despite missing much of August and September through injury, and will be keen to produce another strong performance in her second appearance at the European Cross-Country Championships. The Cardiff athlete finished 43rd in the Senior Women’s race in Italy two years ago, but hopes for a much higher finish this time around;

“I want to finish as high as possible individually, but Great Britain have a rich history at the Championships, so it would be great to pick up a team medal and get on the podium too.”

Joining Arter as part of British Athletics strong Senior Women’s team will be Gold Coast bronze medallist Melissa Courtney (Poole; Rob Denmark), who’ll look to make a similar impact on the cross country as she did on the track over the summer. Courtney finished 5th in the 5,000m at the European Championships back in August, and was also part of British Athletics’ gold medal winning relay team at the 2017 European Cross-Country Championships. This time she’ll be aiming for more medal glory as the Senior Women’s team eye a podium position in Tilburg.

Welsh trio Charlie Hulson (Liverpool Harriers), Kristian Jones (Swansea Harriers) and Dewi Griffiths (Swansea Harriers; Kevin Evans) will form part of a strong Senior Men’s team in Tilburg after they secured their places with 4th and 5th placed finishes respectively at last weekend’s trial race in Liverpool. Hulson has plenty of international experience on the cross-country scene, having competed at the European and World Cross Country Championships as an u23 athlete, and will make his senior debut on the European stage in Holland. Meanwhile, Griffiths will be making his sixth appearance at the European Cross-Country Championships and will be looking for redemption after he was unable to finish last year’s race through injury, when he looked set to contend for an individual medal after leading the race through the halfway point. Kristian Jones is a regular in the GB Orienteering team, but this will be his first senior British Athletics vest, and he was delighted to get a late call up after Andy Vernon was forced to withdraw with injury.

The full British Athletics team for the Spar European Cross-Country Championships can be viewed here 

Welsh Athletics Ltd.
Cardiff International Sports Stadium
Leckwith Road
Cardiff. CF11 8AZ.

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