Capital athletics hope Emily Stewart (Edinburgh AC) will be looking for an early birthday and Christmas present when she runs in a prestigious international cross country meeting in Brussels on Sunday.
Stewart, who will be 21 on Christmas Eve and was recently added to the 51-strong Scottish Commonwealth Games squad for the first time, will be out to erase the memory of a disappointing European Championship trial in Liverpool last month when she was forced to drop out, thus missing selection for the Great Britain team for Budapest event earlier this month.
Stewart could scarcely have chosen a tougher race for her rehab, as the Iris Lotto Cup event in Brussels includes both Ireland’s Fionnuala Britton, the European senior champion, and the new European under-23 champion, Britain’s Jess Coulson.
Stewart’s coach Ian Whyte, who is now able to see her much more often since she transferred from Edinburgh to Newcastle University, said: “This is just a confidence-boosting run with the stress of studying and assessments and exams off, so hopefully she can perform to the standard she is capable of.
He warned, however: “The field is [of a] very high quality.”
The weather in Newcastle has not been ideal in the build-up to Sunday, but Whyte is delighted with the support Stewart, who is also part of the UK Athletics Futures Programme, is receiving on Tyneside, where she is a Stan Calvert Scholar.
“I’ve enjoyed my time at Newcastle University this session and the staff have been very supportive, but my (maths) course has been demanding and this has impacted on my performances as things built up to a head,” said Stewart.
“I know I’m very fit just now and am very pleased that Scottish Athletics has helped me get this opportunity to gain more experience by racing against some of the best cross country runners in the world.”