Adam Hickey aiming for the top 15 at European Cross-Country Championships

Echo: Adam Hickey Adam Hickey

ADAM Hickey races in his first European Cross-Country Championships as a senior athlete on Sunday with a tough objective set in his mind.

The 25-year-old is gunning for a top 15 finish in the race in Belgrade, Serbia, and to cross the line as the second British athlete.

That’s the target set by Hickey’s coach Eamonn Martin who admits it is “tough but achievable”.

Martin, a former world-class cross-country runner himself, said: “I know Adam is in good shape and if he runs really well then the top 15 is definitely within his capabilities. That’s his target. You have to be a bit brave with your targets, there’s no point setting something that is easy to achieve. This is not a safe target. It’s achievable but it’s tough and those are the targets you need to set yourself.”

Hickey and Martin have been combing through past results from European Cross-Country Championships to set the target.

“We’ve looked at those results and seen in recent years Ryan McLeod was 13th, James Walsh 15th and Mark Draper 22nd,” said Martin. “We know Adam is quicker over 5,000m than Walsh and Draper and he has the same 5k best as McLeod so that’s a good indicator.

“But it’s all about how you perform on the day. He needs to be competing in these events now. They are something which build the mental strength, as well as adding experience. He will be a better runner when he comes back no matter the result. That’s why it is so important to get into these teams.”

Martin expects Andy Vernon, the winner of the trial race, to be the first Brit home and to be challenging for an individual medal and believes Hickey, who was the third senior man at the trials, has the ability to be the next scoring man in a squad that has every chance of winning a team medal.

“He is in better shape than he was before he trials,” said Martin. “He had a phenomenal session last Saturday. If he had done that session two weeks before the trials his confidence would have been really up for that. Tom Farrell (who is at university in the USA and was chosen as a discretionary pick) is a bit of an unknown quantity, but Adam ran faster than him over 5,000m last summer. I think it’s a good target to be second Brit home.”

Martin says Sunday’s race is just another stepping stone in Hickey’s development, with the main focus still remaining the 5,000m on the track.

“I sat down with him at the end of the summer 2012 just after he had run 13m 59s for 5,000m and said to him ‘you have a great chance of making the team for the European Cross in 2012 and definitely for 2013’. He just didn’t make it in 2012, now he’s done it this year and I fully expect him to be a member of the Great Britain cross-country team for years to come now.

“But going forward, everything is geared up towards making progress on the track. I fully believe he can run under 13m 30s for 5,000m. I would not say that, especially in print, if I did not believe it. And the way he has been training only endorses that. He is training so well and a good run at the Europeans will add to that.”

Hickey’s race takes place at 1.10pm on Sunday and will be screened live on BBC2.

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