European Champion Steel headlines GB & NI team for China

Gemma Steel

European Cross Country champion Gemma Steel (handicap -2.5) will headline the GB & NI team at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Guiyang, China, tomorrow.

Steel, who is the only athlete in the team over the age of 23, fought all the way to the line to win the title in Bulgaria in December, and will head to the Far East looking to improve on a 31st place finish at the previous edition of the event in Bydgoszcz.


Joining the Charnwood AC athlete in the team is Rhona Auckland (handicap 0.0), who will compete in the GB & NI vest for the first time since winning European U23 Cross Country gold shortly before Christmas.


After claiming the U20 women’s team bronze two years ago, Cross Challenge series winner Phoebe Law (handicap 1.5), Bronwen Owen (handicap 2.8), Hannah Nuttall (handicap 1.2), Grace Baker (handicap 2.3), Harriet Knowles-Jones (handicap 1.5) and Amy Griffiths (handicap 1.7) will be looking to replicate the achievements of their predecessors in China in two weeks time.    


The Scottish, Welsh and English national cross country champions will all be present in the senior men’s team in Guiyang, with Andrew Butchart (handicap -5.5), Dewi Griffiths (handicap -4.4) and Charlie Hulson (handicap -5.6) making up the first three places at Cofton Park on Saturday. Jonny Hay (handicap -5.8), who was fourth in the race and fourth in the U23 race at the European Cross Country Championships will also be looking to continue his rich vein of form as GB & NI go head-to-head with the world’s best cross country athletes.


In the junior men’s team, Joe Steward (handicap -2.4) secured the first automatic qualifying place following his victory at Cofton Park at the Intercounties, that incorporated the trial race, on 7 March, closely followed by Jonathan Glen (handicap -2.9), who won the overall Cross Challenge series title after a consistent winter season. Elliot Bowker (handicap -3.4) took the final guaranteed spot on the team with a third place finish and will be accompanied by Chris Olley (handicap -2.4), Arkansas-based Alex George (handicap -4.7) and Jac Hopkins (handicap -3.1), winner of the Welsh U20 national championships and Cardiff Cross Challenge.


British Athletics’ Head of Endurance Barry Fudge said: “We have seen some encouraging performances throughout the cross country season, culminating with the Inter Counties at the beginning of this month.


“China will be another step up, but I’m confident that the young team selected will perform to their potential, which will bode well for future GB & NI cross country teams.” 


GB & NI team for the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Guiyang, China on Saturday 29 March 2015:


Senior men:


Andrew Butchart (handicap -5.5)

Dewi Griffiths (handicap -4.4)

Jonny Hay (handicap -5.8)

Charlie Hulson (handicap -5.6)


Senior women:


Rhona Auckland (handicap 0.0)

Gemma Steel (handicap -2.5)


Junior men:


Elliot Bowker (handicap -3.4)

Alex George (handicap -4.7)

Jonathan Glen (handicap -2.9)

Jac Hopkins (handicap -3.1)

Chris Olley (handicap -2.4)

Joe Steward (handicap -2.4)


Junior women:


Grace Baker (handicap 2.3)

Amy Griffiths (handicap 1.7)

Harriet Knowles-Jones (handicap 1.5)

Phoebe Law (handicap 1.5)

Hannah Nuttall (handicap 1.2)

Bronwen Owen (handicap 2.8)

The World Cross Country Championships starts with the junior women's race at midday in China, which is 0400hrs in the UK.

12:00 04:00 Junior Women's Race Startlist
12:30 04:30 Junior Men's Race Startlist
13:15 05:15 Senior Women's Race Startlist
14:10 06:10 Senior Men's Race Startlist

Live coverage: 3:50-7:25am on BBC Red Button and sport website; 16:00-17:05 BBC Two highlights; with reports on the BBC Sport website.