December 21 - Fionnuala Britton, who retained her European cross country title for Ireland earlier this month, and Spain's former European silver medallist Ayad Lamdassem will defend their individual titles in the annual international match between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Team Europe and the United States at the Great Edinburgh Cross Country at Holyrood Park next month.
Britton (pictured top) will be full of confidence having earlier this month won a second European Cross Country Championships gold in sub-zero temperatures in Budapest ahead of Portugal's Dulce Félix and Adrienne Herzog of the Netherlands, who are also included in the Team Europe side for the race on January 5.
"Fionnuala ran another fantastic race to clinch a second successive gold medal where she kept her nerve, when Félix looked as if she might mount a successful challenge over the final circuit," said Andy Caine, the meeting's elite athletes manager.
"After that victory she immediately confirmed her availability for Edinburgh and that sends out a clear message she is determined to be just as hungry for another win, whatever the conditions may be like."
Lamdassem, a two-time European Cross Country Championships silver medallist, never came to terms with the freezing weather and snow-covered course in Hungary but despite the setback of not making a podium finish on this occasion, has been in very impressive pre-Christmas form on the European circuit.
Frenchman Hassan Chahdi, the European Cross Country Championships runner-up, along with nine times European title holder, Ukrainian Sergiy Lebid, will be strong contenders to cross the finish line first and earn valuable points in the team race.
"Lamdassem is determined to bounce back from his disappointment in Budapest and show that it was just an off day at a very cold East European venue," said Caine.
"It's also great to see Lebid again in Edinburgh where he has been almost an annual regular at the meeting and I know as team captain he will show from the front his leadership qualities."
The event features the international team challenge which sees senior and junior teams from Britain and Northern Ireland, the US and Europe compete in four separate races aiming to take the overall team challenge title.
The Great Edinburgh Cross Country is free for spectators and will be televised live on BBC One from 13:00 until 14:30 GMT.
Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]nsidethegames.biz