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Eliza Nicholson: from West End to World Cross

Eliza Nicholson: from West End to World Cross

As a newcomer to the sport, the 16-year-old British runner sets her sights on the World Cross in Belgrade this weekend

Had it not been for lockdown, Eliza Nicholson would still be auditioning for West End performances, yet she now finds herself preparing to compete in the World Cross Country Championships this weekend.

During the Covid pandemic, the 16-year-old chose to leave her performing arts background and take up running as a way of keeping busy, seeing it as a ‘fairer’ hobby.

The Blackheath and Bromley athlete is one of four under-20 women on the GB team ready to take on Belgrade.

The squad sees Innes FitzGerald, Jess Bailey and Natasha Phillips complete the team.

Nicholson has seen considerable success in cross country this season, finishing as the runner-up behind FitzGerald in both the Inter-Counties and English Schools Championships

The Commonwealth Youth Games bronze medallist has set her sights on future marathons and opportunities at American universities.

AW chats exclusively to Nicholson below:

U20 podium (l to r) Louise Damen, Eliza Nicholson, Innes FitzGerald, Jess Bailey, Liz Yelling (James Rhodes)

How does it feel to compete at World Cross and how will you approach the race?

It’s everything I could have ever wanted, I feel like the hard training has paid off.

Going into Belgrade I really want to focus more on doing really well as a team, because obviously I am going to do the best I possibly can but with the incredible standards of everyone I think we can do well as a team, especially with Innes [FitzGerald] coming.

I am going to try and enjoy it as much as I can and do as well as I can because it is the last cross country race of the season.

How did you first get into running competitively?

My sister used to run for a club, and she is five years older than me so I would always look up to her. It wasn’t until lockdown when I started running pretty much every day because I was bored and wanted to do something useful with my time.

I then went back to school and I did the 800m at sports day and I was like, ‘what happened, I did quite well’ and then I joined an athletics club.

I did one track season, I hated it and I literally got last at English Schools. Fast forward a year later I was at the Commonwealth Youth Games and to think that I am in a GB team now, I would not have believed it. It has all happened so quickly.

My first cross country race was in Year 5 and I would go because you got a free doughnut afterwards. I…

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