Haile Gebrselassie supports new schools event

Distance legend gets behind initiative which will see UK schools invited to European Cross Country races

Haile Gebrselassie DurhamCC 1994 (Mark Shearman)

Haile Gebrselassie is among several top athletes who have got behind the European Schools Cross Country Open due to be held for the first time in Gran Canaria next February.

The event in Santa Brigida on February 19 is set to feature teams from all around the continent in the junior, intermediate and senior age groups. The competition will be part of a week-long training camp – during half-term for most pupils – in the Spanish islands, which are the warmest place in Europe during winter.

Distance legend Gebrselassie has been the latest to lend his support to the novel event. He said: “Cross country for me was very important. As you know, my career started in 1991 at the World Junior Cross Championships in Antwerp where I finished eighth.

“I believe it is a great way to build a good base from middle distance on the track to long distance on the roads. It’s simply unique and brings people from various disciplines together.

“The initiative of having the ESCCO is fantastic and I believe this is a way to inspire and motivate the next generation in Europe.”

Becky Lyne, the 2006 European 800m bronze medallist, has been announced as an ‘athlete leader’ at the training camp, which will run from February15-22.

Jon Brown, Hayley Yelling, Sonia O’Sullivan and Catherina McKiernan have also made positive comments in support of the event.

The event is organised by Professional Warm Weather Training Gran Canaria, which runs training camps on the island.

» See escco.es for more details

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