Athletics: Murray focused on matching previous best with top-ten place in Slovenia

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Capital star Freya Murray (Edinburgh AC) is aiming for a top ten place in the European Cross Country Championships in Slovenia on Sunday.

A European gold medallist with the British junior team nine years ago and ninth in the European senior in 2009, the 28-year-old engineer is the only Scot in this year’s men’s and women’s senior teams. “I’d like to finish in the top ten and match my previous best,” said Murray who missed much of the year following the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in October 2010 through injury, though she did retain her Scottish title at Falkirk last March.

Third in the UK trial at Liverpool last month behind England’s Hatti Dean and Gemma Steel, Murray secured an automatic berth in the team but says they will not be running as a team. “We won’t plan to run as a team,” she said. “But it might pan out that we’re closely packed and in that case I’m sure we’ll help each other.”

GB women, winners in 2003, have been runners-up in the senior team race for the previous seven years and will face tough competition to maintain that run, especially as Murray’s fellow-Scot Steph Twell is concentrating on the under-23 race, where she has a distinct chance of a medal.

Three times the European junior champion, the Aldershot Anglo/Scot might have been one of the senior favourites had she not suffered a horrendous accident when she broke her ankle in three places during a race in Belgium nine months ago. Last month’s trial, in which she finished fifth overall, was Twell’s first race back and persuaded her to take up the invitation to renew her Euro Cross love affair.

Twell’s best chance of gold probably comes in the junior race where her Aldershot clubmate Emelia Gorecka is highly rated.

Scottish senior champion Derek Hawkins (Kilbarchan) is one of the three Scots in the men’s under-23 team, the others being Matthew Graham (Kirkintilloch) and Matthew Gillespie (Shettleston).

Meanwhile, Scottish 4k champion Morag MacLarty (Central) and Emily Stewart (Edinburgh AC) will both miss tomorrow’s East District Championships in Aberdeen through injury.