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Speedy Steel won European title

Gemma Steel

Gemma Steel is one of Britain’s most talented cross country runners. In 2014, she won the European Cross Country Championships, and two months ago was first at the British trials for the European Cross Country Championships.

Her current form suggests she is a serious contender for a Bermuda Marathon Weekend title.

Steel is expected to line up in this evening’s KPMG Front Street Mile elite race, and tomorrow’s 10K.

Speaking ahead of her arrival, she said: “I would definitely like to do the 10K and was going to decide on the mile or half-marathon once I get there.”

Although she has not previously visited Bermuda she has raced in the Caribbean, competing in the World’s Best 10K in Puerto Rico last year and in 2015.

She is in the “building phase” of her training cycle, and regarding the opportunity to compete in Bermuda, said: “This will give me experience of racing in a warmer climate on the road and inspire me for future championships. It is something different and I think it will push me outside my comfort zone.”

Steel’s path into the sport started when she was a youngster. She showed talent as a sprinter and in the long jump, then as a teenager she joined Charnwood AC, one of the leading athletics clubs in the English Midlands.

In her first cross country race she came third. She said: “It’s only because my friend persuaded me that I took it up!”

About 10 years ago she joined a smaller club in her home town and competed in road races, chalking up impressive results. Those successes prompted her to rejoin the Charnwood club, where she could train seriously and compete at national level.

Her favourite distance is 10K, where she has a lifetime best of 31min 26sec, set in 2014. The same year she ran her fastest half-marathon in 68:13.

Steel said her most pleasing achievements as a runner were winning the British trials for the European Cross Country Championships in November, and collecting a team silver medal the following month with the British squad at the European championships in Sardinia, where she placed twelfth.

Looking ahead, she said: “My ambition is to get the most of my running career, be the best that I can be, lower my 10K and half-marathon times, win a medal on a global stage and look back on some fantastic experiences travelling the world doing what I love doing.

“My dream is to qualify for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018.”