British Athletics’ selection policy for the global event had come under fierce criticism
British Athletics has vowed to send full teams to the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Aarhus on March 30.
Earlier this winter the governing body issued a selection policy that guaranteed squad spots to just the top two senior athletes in the trials races at the Inter-Counties on March 9, with additional places only available if the selectors “believe that there is realistic potential for the team to finish at least in the top six”.
The policy came under fierce criticism, with athletes and coaches voicing disappointment at the prospect of incomplete teams in Denmark.
But the latest news – first published in the January 31 edition of AW magazine – has seen British Athletics announce that the governing body considers the World Cross as “a stepping stone towards success at future global track and field championships – both for high quality senior endurance athletes and developing junior athletes – and therefore expect to select senior and junior teams, up to six per team, to travel to Aarhus”.
Ahead of the 2017 World Cross (pictured), British Athletics made the decision to hold an official trial just for junior team places, with senior athletes earning selection only if they were considered capable of finishing in the top 30 at either that edition or in future years, or where there was considered potential to win a team medal.
A four-strong senior women’s team was sent to Kampala but at the time British Athletics said that many of the senior men in contention for team places had declined the opportunity.
“We know there is a huge interest in sending full teams and giving athletes the opportunity to compete, especially with the championships returning to Europe,” said British Athletics performance director Neil Black, “and it is our intention to ensure we use this year’s IAAF World Cross Country positively to benefit endurance athletes who will be targeting a later than usual World championships in Doha and eventually Tokyo.
“We’re looking for athletes to commit fully to the trial races and demonstrate form, but there is no reason why the British athletes cannot compete well in Aarhus and put in strong individual and team performances.
“We’re not looking at this as an ‘if’ we send full teams, the view point is ‘how competitive’ they will be and we’re looking forward to seeing athletes grab this opportunity and delivering for the British team.”
Nigel Holl, UKA’s interim chief executive, added: “The message is clear, we’re committed to selecting a full squad and the performance team have backed that approach 100%, all we ask is that athletes commit to the trial event and prioritise the competition in their winter schedule.”
» See the January 31 edition of AW magazine for our original story breaking this news