Louise Damen to lead GB women at World Cross Country

Louise Damen

IAAF World Cross Country Championships

Myslecinek Park, Poland
Sunday, 24 March
12:00 GMT
Live on BBC Two & BBC HD channel

Hampshire athlete Louise Damen will lead the Great Britain Women's team at the World Cross Country Championships in Poland on Sunday.

The 30-year-old self-coached runner recently won the English and UK titles.

And Damen will be looking to continue her recent excellent form in the city of Bydgoszcz this weekend.

"It's always a great honour to put on the Great Britain vest. Hopefully I can give a good account of myself," she told BBC Radio Solent.

"I've recovered pretty well from the Inter Counties Championship and I'm looking forward to the weekend."

Damen has competed at the event before, once as a junior in 2001 and twice as a senior in 2003 and 2004, and the Winchester runner is hoping to draw on that experience this weekend.

"It's been a long time since I've done a World Cross Country and the event has certainly changed and moved on.

"I've developed quite a lot as a runner since I was last there when I was 21, and I was 11th at the European Cross just before Christmas, so I'd like to improve on my place in European terms.

"Then I could move up a few ranks in the European runners, but obviously I'll give it my best shot and just see what happens."

Snow is currently making conditions at the Myslecinek Park course difficult with temperatures expected to reach as low as -11 degrees Celsius over the coming days.

But that will not phase Damen, who is something of a specialist in winter conditions.

"I think I enjoy slightly more adverse conditions than most people," she added.

"This winter in particular, we've seen some pretty tough conditions, which I revel in to be honest.

"There are better gaits and mechanics for running in the mud. The leg strength the marathon training has given me is a big asset."

Starting from 2013, the World Cross Country Championships will be held every two years, and more than 50 countries will be represented in the men's and women's races this year.

The women's race includes the likes of four-time winner and Olympic 10,000m champion Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia.

BBC Sport's athletics statistician Mark Butler expects African runners to again dominate - Ethiopia and Kenya have won every men's team title since England, led by Nick Rose, triumphed in Paris 1980.

He points out: "There are no teams at all from Germany or Russia and for the first time ever no men's team from France. This is certainly a reaction to the paralysing domination of Ethiopia and Kenya.

"However, Geoffrey Kipsang, the Kenyan who won the junior race at the last championships and regarded as a potential winner in Bydgoszcz, turned down the chance to progress to the senior title.

"Now 20, he's just run 58 minutes, 54 seconds for the half marathon and will undoubtedly be courted by the World Marathon Majors who will be looking for the next world record holder at the full distance."

Coverage of the Championship will be presented by Jonathan Edwards with commentary and expert opinion from Steve Cram and two-time World Cross Country champion Paula Radcliffe.

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