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Emma Pallant

15 December 2011

Following the best ever result for the Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland Team at the European Cross Country Championships, Emma Pallant and Emelia Gorecka (both coached by Mick Woods) will lead a 30-strong team at the Bupa Great Edinburgh Cross Country International Challenge on the 7 January 2012 at Holyrood Park.

Gorecka, 17, has come a long way since her 12th place finish in Edinburgh 11 months ago, with not only a European Junior Championship silver medal at 3000m but also scooping her first ever Junior European Cross Country title, while Pallant will be looking to better her 10th place at the event after an impressive win in the European U23 Cross Country Championship in Velenje.

The newly crowned European Champions will be joined by 18 other members of the Aviva GB & NI Team from last Sunday’s record event and will be looking to continue their momentum into the start of the Olympic year.

Pallant will be joined by fellow U23 European medallist Naomi Taschimowitz (Charlotte Fisher) who won silver and Stephanie Twell (Mick Woods) who finished a credible fourth and continues her comeback trail. After the trio successfully worked together in Velenje, Edinburgh could see another team effort to bring home the results.

Gemma Steel (John Nuttall), who has shown strength from the start of the season winning the McCain Bristol Cross Challenge and last week becoming European bronze medallist, completes the Women’s 6km line-up along with Hatti Dean and Hannah Walker (both coached by Bud Baldaro), Scotland’s Freya Murray (Steve Jones), Elle Baker (Dave Turnbull), and Amy Campbell (Bill Foster).

Joining Gorecka in the Junior Women’s 4km race is 2011 European Junior Championships 5000m bronze medallist Annabel Gummow (Chris Wooldridge) who put in a dominant performance in Bristol and finished just outside the medals in Velenje in sixth place.

Also starting will be Laura Muir (Alan Mackintosh), who finished an encouraging 31st in her international debut in Velenje, Amy Griffiths and Grace Baker (both coached by Mick Woods) and Iona Lake (Pauline Ash).

The Men’s team, who were lead to a third place finish in Edinburgh last time by none other than World 5000m Champion Mo Farah, will feature U23 talent James Wilkinson (Phil Townsend) whose European silver medal has brought back the confidence he will need to start off the new year with a bang.

Last season Ryan Mcleod (John Nuttall) went from strength to strength with a fantastic run for 11th place in 26:29 at the event and is looking even stronger this season with a 13th place finish at the European Championships, closely followed by James Walsh (Mike Baxter) in 15th, who will also start.

Steve Vernon (David Turnbull), who lead the Stockport men’s team to victory at the Saucony ECCU Cross Country Relays with the fastest leg of 15:26.45, finished in fourth place at Edinburgh’s International 4k in January and joins 2011 McCain Bristol Cross Challenge winner Frank Tickner, Tom Humphries - who improved his 5000m best to 13:47.22, Phil Wicks - winner of the inaugural runbritain Grand Prix – Scottish National Champion Derek Hawkins (Lawrie Spence) and Keith Gerrard.

European Junior Cross Country silver medallist Richard Goodman (Geoff Williams) and 2011 McCain Bristol Cross Challenge winner Kieran Clements (Steve Benson) – the top two finishers at the European Cross Country last Sunday in 2nd and 9th respectively – will be joined by team-mates Mark Shaw (Steve Shaw) and Jack Goodwin (Simon Goodwin) who together led the junior men to team victory in Velenje.

Also selected to compete in the Men’s 6km International is Robbie Farnham Rose (Mark Hookway) and Charlie Grice (Jon Bigg) where the first six athletes to cross the finish line will count towards the overall points score.

Commenting on the selected teams, Head of Endurance Ian Stewart said: "We were outstanding when topping the medal table for the fourth successive year at the European Cross and dominating the event. After brilliant endurance performances throughout 2011, we want to continue that positive momentum into the New Year in 2012.”

The International Challenge between the Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland team, the United States and a European select side for all age groups is the fourth leg of this winter's IAAF World Cross Permit series and will be broadcast on BBC One/online.

The day will also feature a 3k race with a star-studded line-up including Kenyans Asbel Kiprop and Brimin Kipruto and Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele.

For more informtaion, click here.