Belfast Telegraph

GB's Gorecka and Steel will aim for Dundonald glory

 

By Brian Hill

Great Britain stars Emilia Gorecka and Gemma Steel, the former European champion, are the latest major names to be announced for the Dundonald International Cross Country this month, which is part of the IAAF World Series.

Extensive preparations have been completed for Ireland's premier event at the Lisburn and Castlereagh Council-run Billy Neill Playing Fields, where the well drained conditions should ensure a fast 5.5k women's event.

Gorecka (24) made a major effort to win the big Edinburgh International Cross Country a year ago but just lost out by two seconds to triple European Cross Country champion Yasmin Cann of Turkey.

Gorecka's renowned track speed has made her a feared competitor in the closing stages of races. She showed her prowess as a 16-year-old in 2010 with a bronze medal in the European Cross Country Junior Championships.

She then proceeded to achieve unprecedented success in the same age group with gold medals in 2011 and 2013 and a silver in 2012, which was only two seconds behind the winner, Amela Terzic of Serbia.

Former National Cross Country champion Gorecka has suffered her share of injuries over the years but will be hoping to make an impact in her first cross country outing in the province.

She previously competed here two years ago with a personal best time in the Armagh 3k.

Seasoned competitor Steel was no stranger to International Cross Country at the previous course in Antrim, where she achieved three top-six finishes.

The prolific racer was fifth to Charlotte Purdue in 2011 and came closest to victory the following year when she was seven seconds behind the legendary Fionnuala McCormack.

A few months earlier, Steel had to settle for bronze in the European Championships in Slovenia behind double champion McCormack. However, her best performances were still ahead.

In the European Championships in Belgrade in 2013, she took silver behind Sophie Durate of France. Steel then achieved her crowning glory the following year in Samokov when she defied muddy, icy conditions to just snatch the gold in the same time as GB team-mate Kate Avery.

This more than made up for a rather lacklustre sixth-place finish earlier that year at Greenmount. Steel retained good 10k road race form last summer with wins in Glasgow and Gateshead plus a third in Dublin.

Both Steel and Gorecka will be pressed at Dundonald to stay with this year's world fastest 10,000m runner Pauline Kamulu and World Junior Cross Country champion Hawi Feysa.

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