The European 5000m bronze medallist is looking forward to pulling on the GB vest again in Italy

After racing at the IAAF World Indoor Championships, European Championships and Rio Olympics in 2016, Steph Twell is looking forward to representing her country once again when she competes at the European Cross Country Championships on Sunday (December 11).

The 27-year-old is a big Euro Cross fan and will make her 11th appearance at the event this weekend in Chia, Italy. The Aldershot, Farnham & District (AFD) athlete won three titles as a junior between 2006 and 2008 and has finished sixth and seventh in the senior race at the last two editions.

For Twell it is the ideal way to round off what has been a successful year.

“It’s hugely satisfying,” says the European 5000m bronze medallist as she reflects on 2016. “I think I’ve got that contentment this year to give myself a pat on the back.

“I feel happy that everything I set out to achieve I did.”

After the demands of the summer, Twell has raced just once on the country so far this winter and chose to miss the GB Euro Cross trials at the Liverpool Cross Challenge in order to concentrate on her training.

“After the Olympics, I wanted to have a bit of downtime and just be slightly easier on myself because I had my foot on the pedal for quite a long time,” she says. “My training is coming together, I’m puzzling everything together and building the foundations again of my strength and conditioning as well as my volume.

“I’m thrilled to be on the team because the girls raced very well, it was very competitive seeing them all so close,” she adds. “I’m really grateful to the selectors for choosing me and I feel like I will be able to contribute well to the team.”

The Scot has helped the GB senior women’s squad to team gold at the past three editions of the event, adding to her total gold medal haul of 12 at this event, and it is that team atmosphere which really appeals to Twell.

“When you’re running to the line at a Euro Cross, you’re cheered by everyone, everyone understands what you’re going through,” she explains. “As well as your own performance you’re counting for the team, which is quite special.”

Something else very close to Twell’s heart is her club, AFD. The strength and support of the whole athletics community has shown over the past month following the deaths of two of Twell’s club-mates, Lucy Pygott and Stacey Burrows. The two talented teenage runners tragically lost their lives after being hit by a car while training, and Twell says racing for her club will always be hugely important.

“Coming into my senior years I am now slightly cherry picking (events), but not losing sight of racing at the grassroots level,” says the Mick Woods-coached runner, who ran the fastest leg at the English Cross Country Relays in Mansfield last month.

“My club is still hugely important to me, more than ever the last few weeks, and it makes me really appreciate what I am part of.”

» See the December 8 edition of AW magazine for an in-depth preview to the European Cross Country Championships, while the December 15 magazine will include coverage of the event