Multiple world and European cross country champion says separate teams could boost athlete development
Two-time individual champion Paula Radcliffe believes the inclusion of separate home countries teams in the European Cross Country Championships rather than Great Britain could be of great benefit to athlete development.
The idea has been raised by Scottish Athletics, with the governing body north of the border keen to maximise representative opportunities.
The European Cross is an event regularly dominated by Great Britain, with the nation taking five out of a possible seven team golds at this year’s championships in Lisbon. And Radcliffe, who also won junior and senior world cross titles, feels that fielding teams from Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland instead is an idea worthy of closer inspection.
“I absolutely think this idea could work for the Euro Cross,” Radcliffe told Scottish Athletics. “I guess it is kind of going back to where we were at one stage with Scotland and other home countries competing in the World Cross.
“With the depth of medals British teams have achieved, and the success there’s been over the recent years, it is fair to say the event has become dominated by GB.
“I think this way it would spread it out a bit and give a platform to other Scottish, English, Northern Irish and Welsh athletes
to move into teams and gain some experience of international cross country.
“And actually that is what the Euro Cross should really be about – an opportunity for athletes from European countries to gain experience of international competition before then looking to move up to the World Cross or to the Olympics and Worlds on the track.
“Clearly it would open that door for a number of other athletes from around Britain to get that chance and I think, fundamentally, that would be a good thing.”
The next representative cross country opportunity will come on January 11 at the British Athletics Cross Challenge event in Stirling, which will also incorporate the Home Countries XC International. Andy Butchart, team gold medallist with Britain in Lisbon, will lead the Scottish team at the King’s Park venue which is very close to his home town of Dunblane.
Fellow GB international, Mhairi Maclennan, will lead the Scotland senior women’s team in the match with England, Wales and Northern Ireland – with Run Stirling to be streamed live online by BBC and Vinco.
Individual entries for the Stirling Cross Challenge will close on January 2. Email Cliff Robinson at [email protected] if you have any queries.