Athletics News

Innes FitzGerald in World Cross u-turn

Innes FitzGerald in World Cross u-turn

European under-20 champion makes dramatic decision to travel to Belgrade for global champs on March 30 as she joins Abbie Donnelly, Jess Warner-Judd and Will Barnicoat in GB team

When Innes FitzGerald won the under-20 women’s race at the Inter-Counties Cross Country Championships and World Trials in Nottingham last Saturday, she had little intention of racing at the World Cross Country Championships in Belgrade, Serbia, on March 30.

But after weighing up the travel options she has now decided make the long journey, probably via a number of trains, from her home in Devon in south-west England to the Balkans of south-east Europe.

“In the lead-up to the Inter-Counties, Innes did not think she would be doing the World Cross,” her coach Gavin Pavey told AW. “But she’s since decided the travel is do-able.”

It means the 17-year-old distance runner will take on the might of east Africa after winning the European title in style in Brussels in December. She finished fourth in the Euro Cross in Turin 15 months ago but that was after a gruelling journey to Italy on the Eurostar and trains where she had little sleep.

FitzGerald’s eco-friendly stance on travel is well-publicised and she turned down a GB vest for the World Cross Country Championships in Australia last year because she could not justify to herself doing a long-haul flight.

Innes FitzGerald (Getty)

Pavey says she did not particularly ease down for last weekend’s Inter-Counties either and plans to do the same at the English Schools Championships in Pontefract this Saturday (March 16) – effectively using the race as a hard training run – before tapering for the World Cross.

The winner of the under-20 men’s trial in Nottingham, though, Aron Gebremariam, is not in the GB team as he is an Eritrean refugee currently running for Birchfield and isn’t eligible to run for Britain.

The GB team does, however, have a number of strong names in a squad which was originally due to be named on Wednesday but delayed until Thursday morning.

Abbie Donnelly (James Rhodes)

Abbie Donnelly, the European bronze medallist in December, leads the women’s team after winning not one but two trial races – the London International in January and Inter-Counties this month.

More of a surprise is the inclusion of Jess Warner-Judd in the team with her. Warner-Judd is due to race on the track in “The Ten” in California on Saturday where she will go for the Olympic 10,000m qualifying time. But she will then…

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