GB Euro Cross team captain looks ahead to the event in Chia, Italy

Andrew Butchart got straight to the point about Great Britain’s prospects on the eve of the European Cross Country Championships in Chia, Italy.

“We’re all here to win,” stated the team captain as he prepared for the warm race conditions and what looks set to be a fast, dry course in Sardinia. “I think if we don’t then we’ll be upset.”

Butchart has his sights set on emulating the feat of Mo Farah, who was the last British senior male to land gold at these championships 10 years ago. He has high hopes, too, for the rest of his team.

“Our team is super strong and to captain them is just a massive honour for me,” said the 25-year-old. “The British team has topped the medal table for the last 13 years and hopefully we can top the table as a team again. That’s our aim.”

Butchart is clearly highly motivated by the challenge that lies ahead and underlined the store he places in cross country helping him to perform on the track.

“I think this is really important,” he said. “I think too many senior athletes shy away from cross country. I always target this – I always do a cross country season and this is always the peak of it, so that’s why I’m here.”

Tellingly, however, not one of the athletes who took part in Saturday’s press conference has the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, which take place in Kampala in March, in their plans.

AW columnist Tim Hutchings recently outlined the major challenges and concerns facing the World Cross. As Butchart pointed out, scheduling is one of the key reasons why many of Europe’s elite will not toe the start line.

“I think it’s because of when it fits in in the year, it’s not because of where it is,” he said. “It’s a bit later and everyone is going to be focusing on the track. I think everyone is realising that you have to start the track season a little bit earlier, you get the work in earlier and it helps throughout the whole year. I think that’s why people are going to miss it.”

» Tim Hutchings’ comment on the IAAF World Cross Country Championships can be found in the December 1 edition of AW magazine

» See the December 8 issue of the magazine for a three-page preview to the European Cross Country Championships in Chia