Hannah Alderson looks forward to making Great Britain debut at European Cross Country Championships

Hannah Alderson

Hannah Alderson

First published in Sport Gazette Series: Photograph of the Author by , Sports editor covering the Thornbury, Dursley and Yate areas

OLD SODBURY based runner Hannah Alderson was proudly cheering on Great Britain’s athletes at the Olympics from her sofa just four months ago.

However, the 20-year-old will feel a great sense of pride for a different reason this Sunday when she pulls on the GB vest herself for the first time at the European Cross Country Championships in Budapest, Hungary.

Olympic-hopeful Alderson hopes to get used to racing on the big stage and admitted that the achievements of British athletes at London 2012 has spurred her on.

“I didn’t get tickets but we watched at home and had an Olympic party,” said Alderson.

“Just knowing that it was in London, in our country, and seeing GB doing well was so inspiring and makes you proud.

“To wear a GB vest in 2012, when GB athletics is in its prime, will be a really proud moment and really special.”

It has certainly been a memorable year for British sport and Alderson will not forget it in a hurry either with her international call-up being the icing on the cake.

One of her highlights was running at the Olympic Stadium, where she finished sixth in the 10,000m final and 15th in her 5,000m heat at the BUCS Championships, which acted as a test event for London 2012.

Alderson said: “It was a great experience. I was not in the best of form that weekend through injury and lower iron levels but it was amazing to know I was running on the track before people like Usain Bolt, Mo Farah and Jess Ennis. “It was a great atmosphere, the stadium was awesome and it’s something I’ll always remember.”

Alderson is not a complete stranger to the international stage as she impressed on her England debut when finishing fourth in an under-20s cross country race in Elgoibar, Spain, in January 2011.

However, she has now stepped up to under-23 level and will represent Great Britain for the first time, with the team looking to defend the title they won in Slovenia last year. “I feel elated,” said Alderson, who runs for Yate & District AC in the track season and Bristol & West AC during the winter. “It’s what I’ve been working towards for so long and it feels surreal to finally achieve that. “I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a shorter distance, which should suit me, and it’s a flatter course which I prefer.

“For me just getting there is amazing. I’ve got nothing to lose so I’ll give it everything and see what happens.

“Hopefully I’ll contribute well to the team and maybe we’ll be in with a chance of a team medal.”

For Alderson, reaching Budapest was also something of a relief as she finished in the sixth and final qualifying spot at the trials in Liverpool by the skin of her teeth, beating Leigh Lattimore by one second.

She said: “Looking at who entered I could see who the front girls would be but there are always a few spots open to anyone so it’s about who performs on the day. “I knew I was capable, it was just a matter of delivering and luckily I did.

“I was really tired come the last half lap and could feel people getting closer. “I didn’t have a lot left in the tank and a few of the girls who passed me were seniors. The finish line couldn’t come soon enough and luckily I got there in time.”

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