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Gorecka leads UK Euro Charge

Emelia Gorecka

Emelia Gorecka will attempt to win a fourth consecutive under 20 women’s medal after being selected as part of a 36-strong GB & NI team for the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Belgrade, Serbia, on Sunday 8 December.

The 19 year old has finished third, first and second at the last three championships and is hopeful of ending her junior career by regaining the title she won in Velenje, Slovenia in 2011.

She said: “I’d like to go back to first and end on a high. I think I’m in good shape and I have lots of experience from the last few years; this will be my fourth European Championship as a junior which not many people are able to do.”

The GB & NI senior teams will be led by Andy Vernon (Nic Bideau) and Gemma Steel (John Nuttall), who were standout winners of their respective trial races at the Liverpool Cross Challenge on Saturday and will be contenders for individual medals in Serbia.

Vernon will be joined in the senior men’s team by Tom Farrell (Dave Smith), who finished fourth in this event last year, while Steel will line up alongside Julia Bleasdale (self-coached), who finished eighth in both the 5,000m and 10,000m at the London Olympic Games last summer, as well as former world junior 1500m champion Steph Twell (Woods).

Both under 23 teams will harbour ambitions of team medals. Charlotte Purdue (Woods), twice a European Cross Country Championships medallist as an under 20, returns to the GB & NI cross country team following a two and a half year absence and is joined by Kate Avery (Tony Simmons), who finished third at the NCAA Cross Country Championships in the USA on Saturday.

Meanwhile Jonny Hay (Woods), second overall in the senior men’s race in Liverpool, is selected to the under 23 men’s team alongside 2011 under 20 silver medallist Richard Goodman, who returned to form this autumn after two years out with injury – finishing second under 23 at the trial.

Jonathan Davies (Rob McKim) has been the dominant under 20 this winter with victories at the Bristol Cross Challenge and against a top international field in Soria, Spain. The European junior 5000m bronze medallist was a comfortable winner at the trial in Liverpool and will be looking for a third consecutive individual medal for GB & NI in the under 20 men’s race at the European Championships.

Every member of the team came home with a medal from Budapest in 2012 as GB & NI topped the medal table with a total of ten medals and team leader Neil Black, British Athletics Performance Director, is looking for a repeat performance this time around.

Black said: “As a team we have a great record at these championships in recent years and I’m confident that the athletes selected will continue that record 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 be able to take away valuable experience.”

Chris Thompson (Mark Rowland) was initially selected as part of the senior men’s team but withdrew after selection due to illness. Following an earlier decision to select reserves within their relevant age group, Thompson has been replaced by first senior reserve Frank Tickner (Clive Thomas).

Full GB & NI team:

Senior Men

Tom Farrell (Dave Smith) – Border/Oklahoma State Uni; Keith Gerrard (Art Acevedo) – Newham & Essex Beagles; Adam Hickey (Eamonn Martin) – Southend; Charlie Hulson (Paul Roden) – Sale Harriers Manchester; Frank Tickner (Clive Thomas) – Wells City Harriers; Andy Vernon (Nic Bideau) – Aldershot, Farnham & District.

Senior Women

Julia Bleasdale (self-coached) – Hillingdon; Katie Brough (Andrew Carter) – Vale Royal; Lauren Deadman (Bill Foster) – Havering Mayesbrook; Lauren Howarth (Pete Riley) – Leigh Harriers; Gemma Steel (John Nuttall) – Charnwood; Stephanie Twell (Woods) – Aldershot, Farnham & District.

Under 23 Men

Luke Caldwell (Robert Russell) – Dorking & Mole Valley/New Mexico Uni; Callum Hawkins (Robert Hawkins) – Kilbarchan; Jonathan Hay (Mick Woods) – Aldershot, Farnham & District; Richard Goodman – Shaftesbury Barnet; Jack Goodwin (Simon Goodwin) – Bedford & County; Dewi Griffiths (Kevin Evans) – Swansea.

Under 23 Women

Jessica Andrews (Woods) – Aldershot, Farnham & District; Rhona Auckland (Joyce Hogg) – Banchory Stonehaven; Kate Avery (Tony Simmons) – Shildon/Iona College; Lily Partridge (Woods) – Aldershot, Farnham & District; Charlotte Purdue (Woods) – Aldershot, Farnham & District; Laura Weightman (Steve Cram) – Jarrow & Hebburn.

Under 20 Men

Michael Callegari (Nadeem Shaikh) – Shaftesbury Barnet; Jack Crabtree (Norman Poole) – Aldershot, Farnham & District; Jonathan Davies (Rob McKim) – Reading AC; Zak Miller (Paul Shaw) – Trafford; Matthew Shirling (Adrian Webb) – Liverpool Harriers; Alex Short (Phil O’Dell) – Chelmsford.

Under 20 Women

Bobby Clay (Peter Mullervy) – Invicta East Kent; Jessica Gibbon (Rob McKim) – Reading AC; Emelia Gorecka (Woods) – Aldershot, Farnham & District; Amy Griffiths (Woods) – Aldershot, Farnham & District; Georgia Taylor-Brown (Roden) – Sale Harriers Manchester; Lydia Turner (Thomas Millmore) – Birtley.