ADAM Hickey will once again race in a Great Britain vest tomorrow after a gap of nearly five years.
It has been a long wait for the 24-year-old Southend AC athlete who regularly picked up GB vests during a brilliant junior career.
Hickey’s juggling of competing in both triathlon and running meant his transition into a senior athlete has not been as swift as his contemporaries.
But after deciding to concentrate wholly on athletics and linking up with new coach Eamonn Martin in February last year, Hickey’s career has kickstarted once again.
He clocked a string of personal bests on the track in the summer, then had a brilliant race at the European Cross-Country trials in Liverpool in November where he finished eighth.
And that was enough to earn him a spot in the GB team that will take on the USA and a European squad at the Great Edinburgh International Cross-Country tomorrow.
“It has been a while,” laughed Hickey. “But to win my first senior GB vest means a lot. I know people say, international vests don’t matter as much when you are junior, so to get one as a senior is a good feeling.
“I think the last time I run for Great Britain was at the World Cross-Country Championships in Kenya in 2007.”
That race in Mombassa was the third consecutive World Cross-Country Championships for Hickey in the junior ranks.
His best placed finish was a fine 45th place in Japan in 2006 when he was the first Briton to finish by some distance and the second European home. By way of contrast, the first European to finish that day was Italy’s Andrea Lalli, who last month was crowned the European Cross-Country champion.
Lalli was due to be running as part of the European team against Hickey and his GB colleagues tomorrow, but has pulled out, but there is still a formidable looking European team including the silver medallist at the European Championships, Frenchman Hassan Chahdi.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” said Hickey. “Since my run at Liverpool (in the European Cross trials), I have grown in confidence and it has given me the belief to go out and run aggressively, and that’s what I want to do in Edinburgh.
“It’s good to be back in the mix with the top GB guys and I just want to run as well as I can.
“There are eight runners in each team with six to score and I want to go out there and see how many I can pick off and aim to be in the scoring team. It’s going to be tough as it’s only 8km, so it will be pretty fast but I’m looking forward to it.”
* Also running for Great Britain in Edinburgh tomorrow is Canvey’s Jessica Judd.
The 17-year-old will join up again with the bulk of the GB under-20 women’s team that won a gold medal at the European Cross-Country Championships.
Judd finished eighth at those championships in Budapest, despite being treated for hypothermia because of the Arctic conditions in the Hungarian capital.
The Great Edinburgh International Cross-Country will be screened live on BBC1 tomorrow from 1pm.