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Russian in Ciara's sights

JUNIOR races at the European Cross-Country championships are notoriously hard to predict, but Ciara Mageean knows exactly who poses the biggest threat among her 75 opponents.

Last year's runner-up Gulshat Fazlitdinova is definitely one she'll be tracking over this 4,000m race. Like Mageean, she too qualifies for the U-20 grade again next year, as does her team-mate Albina Chinchikeyeva.

The Russians broke Britain's four-year stranglehold on team gold last year, but the Brits always have a bunch of medal contenders at this level.

Kate Avery took bronze in 2009, but Charlotte Purdue, the UK junior 10,000m record holder, who won silver in 2008, but was injured last year, looks in better form right now.

Germany's Corinna Harrer and Italy's Federica Bevilacqua finished fourth and fifth respectively last year.

Serbia's Amela Terzic is another to watch. She was only 12th last year, but won 1,500m bronze at the 2009 World Youths where Mageean took 800m silver.

When the Down star took 1,500m silver at the World Juniors last summer Terzic was also a finalist, as were Austria's Jennifer Wenth and Romania's Ioana Doaga, who could also be in the mix.

A fast course and race will best suit Mageean's 1,500m speed, but as she points out: "In track races you can compare PBs, but every cross-country course is different. Everybody has a different approach, and in cross country I just step out on the course and keep my eye on the leader."

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