Steph Twell and Charlotte Purdue (both Aldershot, Farnham & District) have been pre-selected for the Norwich Union Great Britain & Northern Ireland Team for the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Brussels, Belgium on Sunday 14 December. Twell won the senior women’s race in Saturday’s Gateshead International, the opening event of this winter’s McCain UK Cross Challenge Series to demonstrate she is in fine fettle.
Twell and Purdue, both of whom will race in the junior women’s race in the Belgian capital, took gold and bronze respectively at last year’s Europeans in Toro, Spain. 19 year-old Twell made history at the 2007 European Cross Country Championships, becoming the first athlete ever to defend the junior women’s title, after winning gold in San Giorgio su Legnano, Italy in 2006.
It preceded a remarkable year on the track which saw her win 1500m gold at the World Junior Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland before going on to be the youngest British track and field athlete to compete at the Olympic Games in Beijing, where she reached the 1500m semi-finals.
In Brussels, she will be looking to extend her remarkable record yet further in what will be her final championship as a junior athlete and has been pre-selected so that she can complete her preparations, giving her the best opportunity to defend her title.
17 year old Purdue is another prodigious talent and - like Twell - is coached by Mick Woods. She will be making her GB & NI senior debut at the Chiba Ekiden Marathon Relay in Japan on 24 November and will not race at the European trials which will take place in Liverpool just four days after she returns from Japan, allowing her to recover and focus on the European Cross Country Championships.
Twell and Purdue led the GB & NI junior women to the team gold in 2007 and with the current strength in depth of junior women’s endurance running in the UK, they will be hopeful of making a strong defence of this title in Brussels.