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Page last updated at 16:55 GMT, Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Hampshire's Louise Damen excited to get Euro chance

Louise Damen
Damen was a surprise winner of the European trials in Liverpool

Louise Damen will crown a remarkable comeback when she lines up in the European Cross Country Championships in Albufeira, Portugal, on Sunday.

The 28-year-old from Winchester won the trials last month in her first competitive cross country race for two years following a serious ankle injury.

Self-coached Damen is part of a six-strong team in the senior women's race.

Damen told BBC Radio Solent: "I'm very excited. It's been a long road back from my injury."

She added: "It's always a big honour to put on the Great Britain tracksuit but I think this time the process of actually getting to the start line has made it more meaningful.

"After splitting a tendon in my ankle last year I had to spend six months on the sidelines. I love the sport too much, though, and I wanted to get back and achieve my goals."

After her injury problems dogged her career, the Winchester & District AC runner made the decision to operate without a coach.

"I think as an athlete you get to know your own body and your own capabilities," she said.

While many of her professional rivals are able to dedicate themselves solely to athletics, Damen also works full time as a PE teacher at Peter Symonds College in Winchester.

"I like the balance of work and running. I think it's healthy to have that in your life because as an athlete you do have to be selfish a lot of the time," she added.

Damen hopes to compete in the marathon at the 2012 Olympics in London and could make her debut over the distance in the capital in April 2011.



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