Almost two dozen British athletes will make the long trip down under to Bathurst for 44th edition of event
As we approach the 2023 World Cross Country Championships [February 18], the headlines so far have centred around the British athletes not making the 20,000 mile round-trip instead of those who are actually going.
The biggest example of that is Innes FitzGerald, Britain’s leading junior female endurance athlete, who wrote to UKA explaining that “the reality of the travel filled her with deep concern”.
The 16-year-old from Devon placed fourth in the under-20 women’s race at last year’s European Cross Country Championships.
On her Euro Cross trip to Turin, she took an overnight coach to Lille before catching a train to Turin via Paris.
The long trip to Australia added to the fact that this year’s edition takes place in February – in the middle of the indoor season – and not the usual slot of March, means that athletes who were considering have decided not to book their ticket on the plane.
However, Britain will have representation across all races at the championships.
Megan Keith, European U23 silver medallist makes the step up in age group as she is selected for the senior team.
The Scottish athlete won at the British Athletics Cross Challenge event in Perth on January 14 and started 2023 where she left off last year.
She will be joined by Abbie Donnelly, who finished inside the top 12 in the senior race at the European Cross Country Championships back in December, while Amelia Quirk and Poppy Tank the senior women’s quartet.
With several eligible athletes not available for selection, Zakariya Mahamed is the sole representative in the senior men’s team. The Southampton-based athlete finished second behind Charles Hicks in the under-23 men’s race at the last year’s Euro Cross, and will earn his first senior cap.
Great Britain, for the first time, will also send a team in the mixed relay.
Olympic 800m finalist Alex Bell headlines the foursome and brings a wealth of experience to the team.
The Pudsey and Bramley athlete anchored the British team to gold at the 2021 European Cross Country Championships in Dublin.
Joining her is Alexandra Millard who won an individual bronze medal in the under-23 race at the recent European Cross in Turin. Callum Elson and Joe Wigfield are also on the plane.
Finally, in the under-20 races, eight athletes have been selected to take on the best in the world in the age group.
Sam Mills and Luke Birdseye, fourth and fifth in the under-20 race in last December’s Euro Cross respectively, Edward Bird and Jacob Deacon are part of a strong line-up for the age group.
Rebecca Flaherty, who claimed silver for Great Britain at last year’s World Mountain Running Championships is joined by Megan Harris, Hannah Ryding and and Zoe Gilbody in the women’s team.
“We are pleased to be taking this team to the World Athletics Cross Country Championships later this month,” Steve Vernon, World Class Programme Endurance Performance Manager at UK Athletics said. “The event is a prestigious one in the athletics calendar, so we are delighted to have strong representation in every discipline in Australia.
“The World Cross Country Championships is a stepping-stone towards success at future global track and field championships, and that is in line with the overarching Endurance strategy for UK Athletics. This will also be a fantastic development opportunity for many athletes, and important as we build towards future major Cross Country Championships, including the Worlds in Croatia next year.
“Bathurst will provide great experience to all those selected, and we look forward to seeing how they perform on the global stage.”
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The full team is below:
Senior Mixed Relay
Joe Wigfield (Craig Winrow, Wirral)
Rebecca Flaherty (Karen Glerum, Bingley)
Zoe Gilbody (John Skevington, Wreake and Soar Valley)
Megan Harris (Hayley Hemmings, Chelmsford)
Hannah Ryding (Giffnock North)
Edward Bird (Mark Pauley, Poole AC)
Luke Birdseye (Shireen Higgins, Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow)
Jacob Deacon (Katie Hewison, Chorley)
Sam Mills (Exeter)
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