Published: 00:00, 07 February 2002
| Updated: 15:49, 07 February 2002
KENT'S Charlotte Dale takes a big step this weekend towards achieving her ambition of becoming a world class athlete. The Whitstable runner and Invicta member competes in the World Cross Country Championship trials at Nottingham with her mind set on only one thing.
That is to reach the world championships in Dublin next month where she can test herself against the world's best. The 17-year-old is a red hot favourite to win the under-20 women's section at the Nottingham trials, which are run over 6km.
Because of the vagaries of the age system, several of her main rivals will be unable to compete in her class at Dublin, where Dale's race effectively becomes an under-19 event.
Her coach Peter Brenchley said Charlotte was in as good a shape as she could be and her confidence was high following international victories in Spain and Portugal in recent weeks.
"Her main threats will come from her Invicta clubmate Henny Freeman, from Ashford, and a girl called Courtney Birch who runs for Millfield," he said. "But if Charlotte is at her best, she should win comfortably.
"Her real test will come in the worlds when she comes up against the Japanese, who are very strong and, of course, the East Africans. We know she can hold her own at European level, now we need to step up a level.
"Charlotte is ambitious enough to want to become a world class athlete, but the worlds will be our first chance to gauge just where she is in global terms."