Youth is the order of the day in the Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland Team for this year's IAAF World Race Walking Cup in Naumburg, Germany on May 1-2, with only one of the eight strong team over 20 years-old.
Senior Men's 20km
The Norwich Union GB Team is led by 20-year-old twins Dominic and Daniel King (both Colchester Harriers and Coventry University) in the Senior Men's 20km event. Until this year Dom has taken the plaudits but after a series of big personal bests, Dan is currently the UK's top race walker and will be looking to maintain his new found dominance over his brother. Joining the twins in 20km team is their coach Andi Drake (Coventry Godiva Harriers).
Strong junior line-up
Junior events have been added to the programme for the first time in the 43 year history of the event and GB will be fielding strong teams in both the Junior Men's and Women's 10km events.
19-year-old Luke Finch (Leicester Walking Club) leads the Junior Men and is looking to better his personal best of 43:06 and set himself up for a shot at the qualification mark for the IAAF World Junior Championships (he needs to better 43:20 on the track).
Finch will be joined by Nick Ball (Steyning AC) who will celebrate his 16th birthday on the day the team flies out (29 April). Ball will be hoping to lower his personal best (currently 45:20) to under 45 minutes as he works towards selection for the IAAF World Youth Championships next year.
The current crop of Junior Women race walkers in the UK are showing great promise and the team selected for the World Cup could prove to be our highest placed team.
The Norwich Union GB Team is led by 19-year-old Sophie Hales (Steyning AC) who lowered her personal best for the 10km distance to 49:40 in early March. She will be joined by 19-year-old Katie Stones and 16-year-old Jenny Gagg (both Kingston upon Hull AC). A rematch of the AAA Under 20 Indoor Championships, where Hales and Stones pushed each other to the top of the UK all-time indoor rankings for Juniors, should see both girls go close to 49 minutes, while their younger team mate will be looking to try to dip under 50 minutes.
National Event Coach, Martin Bell, is upbeat about the future: "This is a young team which should go on to provide the backbone of the Norwich Union GB Team for the World and European Cup competitions for the next few years."
"These are part of a small, but talented group of young race walkers who are inspired by the performances not only of Paula Radcliffe, but also Ireland's Gillian O'Sullivan (2003 World Silver medallist) and are prepared to work hard. By the next edition of the World Cup in 2006 I expect to see GB also field teams in the Senior Women's 20km and Senior Men's 50km."