STEPH Twell will aim to continue her return to peak form next month when she runs for Britain in the Bupa Great Edinburgh Cross Country event. Scotland’s Commonwealth Games medallist has taken part in the Holyrood race five times before, finishing in the top ten each time.
The 23-year-old has had an injury-interrupted two years since sustaining a bad ankle injury in a cross-country race in Belgium, and a foot injury in June ruled her out of the Olympic Games. But she has been running well in recent weeks following the removal of the metalwork in her ankle and now aims to qualify for the world cross-country championships in March.
Twell is joined in the Great Britain team by her fellow-Scot Freya Ross (nee Murray) and by several athletes who, like her, are coached by Mick Woods. Foremost among them is Jess Coulson from Stockport, who won the European under-23 title in Budapest last weekend,
Coulson was a key member of the British team who finished top of the medals table for the fifth consecutive year at the European Cross Country Championships last Sunday, and will be eager to defend GB & NI’s Edinburgh International title against the USA and Team Europe in the IAAF World Cross Permit series event on the first weekend of 2013.
Ross, meanwhile, finished an excellent fifth at the event earlier this year and, having held the title of Scottish Cross Country Champion for the past four years, will be one to watch in front of her home crowd.
Julia Bleasdale, who impressively finished in eighth position over both 5,000m and 10,000m at London 2012, will captain the women’s team. The Hillingdon athlete last competed in this event in 2010 when she finished 13th in a world-class field.
Steve Vernon will look to follow up a top-ten finish and British senior men’s team bronze medal at last weekend’s European Cross with another strong outing as he captains the GB & NI men’s team. The 32-year-old Stockport Harrier will be joined by many of his compatriots from last weekend’s championships in Budapest, including European Cross individual under-23 bronze medallist James Wilkinson and individual junior bronze medallist Kieran Clements.
Scotland’s Scott McDonald, who picked up a team bronze medal in his Euro Cross debut last week, will compete for the third time.
Of the 12 senior men and women in the GB & NI team in Edinburgh, the top six to cross the finish line will count towards the overall British points score against the USA and Team Europe.
Top name in the GB & NI junior women’s squad is European Cross junior silver medallist Emelia Gorecka.
The World Junior 3,000m bronze medallist is the defending champion in the Scottish capital after a dominant performance saw her take the junior race earlier this year by a massive 21 seconds.
William Paulson will look to follow up his team bronze in his debut European Cross as he makes his first appearance at the Edinburgh International on the British junior team.