Athletics: Tunstall trial of strength

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STEVE TUNSTALL, who made sure of his place in the World Cross-country Championships by winning Saturday's UK trial at Corby, will pound the roads and pathways around his native Preston for the next month in the knowledge that he is in the form of his life, writes Mike Rowbottom.

Five years ago Tunstall produced the best result of his career in finishing 14th at the World Cross-country Championships in Auckland. He was competing for France at the time, having left England to join the Foreign Legion. Since his return to this country shortly afterwards, however, he has struggled to match that performance but his decision this season to return to the training methods he followed during his French sojourn has now put him in a position to better his result of 1988.

While it was a case of vive la difference for Tunstall, it was plus ca change as far as the general look of the team was concerned. The selectors had a straightforward task in naming the runners who followed Tunstall home - Dave Clarke, Eamonn Martin, Andy Bristow, Paul Dugdale, Jon Brown, and Darren Mead. The two optional places went to Dave Lewis, who missed the trial with flu, and Richard Nerurkar, the Olympic 10,000 metres finalist. They should present a respectable challenge to the Kenyans and Ethiopians at Amorebieta, in Spain, on 28 March.

The women's team have an even better chance of success - even without the services of Jill Hunter and Andrea Wallace, who are both concentrating on their preparations for marathon running this spring. Liz McColgan, who is due to leave for South Africa today for altitude training, assured the British Federation last week that she intended to run in the World Cross-country Championships despite her commitment to run in the next three London marathons.

McColgan and the world junior champion Paula Radcliffe, who was advised not to race at Corby shortly before the start because she had a chest infection, have taken the two optional places, and the other four positions have been filled straightforwardly by the first four home - Suzanne Rigg, Alison Wyeth, Vikki McPherson and Gillian Stacey.

GREAT BRITAIn TEAM (for World Cross- country Championships): Senior Men: S Tunstall (Preston), D Clarke (Hercules Wimbledon), E Martin (Basildon), A Bristow (Brighton), P Dugdale (Horwich), J Brown (Sheffield), R Nerurkar (Bingley), D Lewis (Rossendale), D Mead (Norfolk Olympiads). Reserve: A Pearson (Longwood). Senior Women: S Rigg (Sale), A Wyeth (Parkside), V McPherson (Glasgow University), G Stacey (Bromley), L McColgan (Dundee), P Radcliffe (Bedford). Reserve: A Whitcombe (Parkside). Junior Men: C Stephenson (Cardiff), B Sutton (Stoke), D Burrows (Birchfield), M Steinle (Blackheath), M Griffiths (East Cheshire), R Lynham (London Irish). Reserve: S West (Owls). Junior Women: S Murphy (Shaftesbury), J Mitchell (Croydon), J Mackay (Shaftesbury), N Slater (Darlington), C O'Connor (Oldham), M Matthews (Bedford). Reserve: A Tremble (North East Poly).