Gemma Steel targeting European Cross Country gold

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After a successful outing at the Bupa Great North Run last Sunday (September 7), Gemma Steel has her sights set on European Cross Country Championship gold.

On route to her superb second place finish in Newcastle, the Charnwood AC athlete smashed her personal best by over two minutes to cross the line in 68 minutes and 13 seconds – the third quickest half marathon ever ran by a British female.

“I really enjoyed myself in the Great North Run. I think that I could have gone under 68 minutes if I’d really pushed it. I felt very comfortable until about 11 miles,” the 28-year-old said.

Adding: “I think we can push it faster and on a flatter course I think sub-68 minutes is achievable.”

Steel has already proven she is a force to be reckoned with on the international racing scene with recent feats in America over Shalane Flanagan and Molly Huddle, and Sunday’s triumph over the likes of Tiki Gelana and Edna Kiplagat further cemented the talent she oozes.

‚Ä®The John Nuttall-coached athlete spoke: “I think at the Great North I showed everyone what I could do.

‚Ä®“To run with and beat athletes of this quality gives me a great confidence boost moving into the next phase of racing for the year.”

The rest of 2015, for Steel, will now be geared towards the European Cross Country Championships in Samokov, Bulgaria, on December 14.

In last year’s edition of the event the Charnwood athlete finished five seconds behind France’s Sophie Duarte, but Steel has her sights firmly set on making it to the top of the podium this time round.

“I intend to win that race,” she stated.

Gearing up to Bulgaria’s championships, the 28-year-old will compete in the Bupa Great South Run at the end of October (26), along with one other race she is yet to decide on.

Longer-term, Nuttall’s athlete has every intention of stepping up to the marathon with aims of competing over the distance in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

“In order to do that I need to get a qualifying time in the next year so 2015 will see my debut marathon at some point,” Steel revealed.

Adding: “I haven’t decided when or where yet but I’m increasingly confident that I can get a good time at that distance.”