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Grovdal looks to European Cross Champs

Karoline Grovdal

Karoline Grovdal

The 2012 SPAR European Cross Country Championships – which take place in Szentendre, near Budapest, on 9 December – is likely to be graced by a familiar face after a two-year absence from the event: Norway’s Karoline Bjerkeli Grøvdal.

“Yes, my plan is to to race again in the SPAR European Cross Country Championships. In fact, I’m really looking forward to it,” commented the 2009 European Athletics Rising Star of the Year.

Grøvdal won four European titles, both on the track and cross country, as a junior but has yet to strike gold as an under 23 at a continental championship.

“After winning the junior title in 2009, I have had to miss the last two years because of injuries but I haven’t any problems now and it’s my last chance to race as an under 23,” added the 22-year-old Grøvdal, talking to European Athletics.

“I have fond memories of Budapest, I received my European Athletics Rising Star award when the European Athletics gala was held there three years ago. My only regret is that I didn’t see much of the city as I was only there for two days. Maybe this time I will see a little more.”

In 2009, the world seemed to be at the feet of the super-talented Norwegian after she had won both the 3000m steeplechase and 5000m titles at that year’s European Athletics Junior Championships.

However, injuries impeded her progress until the start of this summer but, after setting a 5000m personal best of 15:24.86 in her heat at the Olympic Games to top this year’s under 23 rankings for the distance, she has gone unbeaten in her last six races.

She took the Norwegian 5000m title in 15:36.18 before turning her attention to the roads and has rattled off a string of victories that include an impressive personal best of 69:41 to win the Oslo half marathon on 22 September.

Grøvdal then crossed the line in the Hole 10km on 20 October in 31:46, the third fastest time by a European woman of any age the year.

To tune up for the 2012 SPAR European Cross Country Championships, Grøvdal will have a cross country race in the Netherlands later this month.

“To tell you the truth, it will be about two weeks before the Championships but I don’t remember where!” she confessed.

A fit-again Grøvdal will obviously be among the favourites but she will not necessarily be able to romp away with the race at her leisure in Szentendre.

Six of last year’s top 10 in the women’s under 23 race are still eligible to compete in the age group this year, including Germany’s 2011 bronze medallist Corinna Harrer.

Harrer went on to have a superb summer on the track this year and clocked a spate of personal bests from 800m to 10,000m, including a 1500m best of 4:04.30.

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