ATHLETICS: England at the helm for GB

Bicester Advertiser: Oxford’s Hannah England will    captain the Great Britain & Northern Ireland athletics team at the European Team Championships Oxford’s Hannah England will captain the Great Britain & Northern Ireland athletics team at the European Team Championships

HANNAH England will lead her country for the first time at this weekend’s European Team Championships.

The 27-year-old Oxford City athlete has been named Great Britain & Northern Ireland’s captain for the meeting in Braunschweig, Germany.

England will look to lead by example in her 1,500m race as well as inspiring her teammates.

“Neil Black (British Athletics performance director) phoned me up and asked if I wanted to do it,” she said.

“I said yes, but I am a bit nervous about my speech.”

England’s new role reflects the experience and status of the former world silver medallist.

“It is a bit daunting to think of yourself in that role and then someone asks you to do it,” she said.

“We have got a good tradition of coming in the top three teams.

“I think we will be competitive and have a chance of winning.”

Athletes will be awarded points for their finishing positions, which are added towards their team’s tally.

The former Cherwell School pupil’s appointment comes in the same week that she was confirmed in England’s Commonwealth Games team for Glasgow 2014.

“I think my chances are good,” she said. “I was fourth last time and I have improved a lot since then.

“But the quality of the competition is going to be a lot higher than in Delhi, which was at the end of the season.”

England lies third in this year’s UK rankings with a best time of 4mins 5.27secs.

Her times are slower than last season, but she is happy enough with her progress after missing the indoor season due to illness.

“It’s going OK,” she said. “I have made a little bit of a slow start – I’m definitely not peaking too early this season.”

Barring a storming run on Sunday (1.08pm), England will not be ranked No 1 when she bids to defend her title at the following weekend’s British Championships in Birmingham.

She said: “It’s going to be a bit odd not going in there as the fastest and the fav-ourite, but it is a different challenge.

“It will be a good experience to go into it from that angle.”

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