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Steph Twell suffers ankle fracture

Scotland's Stephanie Twell

Twell earns surprise 1500m bronze

Britain's Commonwealth 1,500m bronze medallist Steph Twell could face a long lay-off after fracturing an ankle at a cross-country race in Belgium.

The London 2012 hopeful was easing to victory on the final lap in Hannut when she slipped and fell, allowing fellow Briton Gemma Steel to claim victory.

The Scot, 21, was taken to hospital and the injury is now in plaster.

Her coach Mick Woods told BBC Sport: "There's no timeframe for recovery, but I can't imagine it will heal quickly."

Contrary to early reports, Twell did not suffer an open fracture.

She travelled back from Belgium on Monday and will see UK Athletics medics for further scans to confirm the extent of her injury.

Woods continued: "And we don't know if there any complications. It will need serious investigation. She's very down and very depressed."

Frank Dick, chairman of Scottish Athletics said: "This is a tough one for anyone let alone an athlete fighting her way towards the Olympic arena.

"But Steph has a special character, courage and persistence. She also has the wisdom of a truly outstanding coach to guide her back on track.

"They have climbed big mountains before and will get to the top of this one."

Aldershot-based Twell had been using the race, which measured at just over 6km, as preparation for the World Cross Country Championships, beginning on 20 March in Punta Umbria, Spain.

"She knew the course was difficult," admitted Woods. "She was miles ahead of the other runners and had only 600m to go.

Steph is very down and very depressed

Twell's coach Mick Woods

"She heard the ankle break and got to try and run, but went straight to ground.

"It's so unfortunate. She has just returned from a three-and-a-half-week altitude training camp in Kenya and won a race last weekend in Spain.

"No bone was exposed, contrary to other reports. There are no issues with the fibula, but there is some issue with the ankle bone. She will have an MRI scan on Monday."

Meanwhile, Helen Clitheroe was among a number of British athletes to post messages of support on Twitter for Twell. "It's such a shame, she was flying in Kenya," tweeted UK indoor 3,000m champion Clitheroe. "It's made me feel sick."

Colchester-born Twell, who qualifies to run for Scotland through her mother, is a three-time European junior cross country champion and won gold at the 2008 World Juniors over 1,500m.

She placed sixth in her 1,500m heat at the 2008 Olympic Games to narrowly miss out on a place in the final, but bounced back from that disappointment to finish a surprise third at last October's Commonwealths in Delhi behind Nikki Hamblin of New Zealand and Kenyan winner Nancy Langat.

Reaction from athletes on Twitter:

@paulajradcliffe Steph Twell badly injured but hopefully not as bad as first thought. Thoughts to her x

@Mo_Farah Really sorry to hear about Steph Twell.... All my support to her.. I hope is not too serious..

@DaiGreene Just heard the horrible news about Steph Twell. Thoughts go out to her, wishing her a speedy recovery. One of the nicest people in athletics

@GregJRutherford Just seen the injury to Steph Twell. She's a lovely girl who's suffered a terrible injury. Wishing her a speedy recovery. All the best x

@andyturner110h From what I hear steph twell has fractured her ankle during a race in belgium, absolutely gutting for her

@JNETTEKWAKYE OMG My heart and prayers are completely with Steph Twell. Devastated for her. Xx

@NathanJDouglas My heart goes out to Steph Twell, praying for you and hoping for a superfast recovery x

see also
Athletics on the BBC
21 Apr 11 |  Athletics
Twell 'honoured' at bronze medal
18 Jan 11 |  Scotland
Twell earns surprise 1500m bronze
18 Jan 11 |  Commonwealth Games
Twell beats Murray's Scots record
28 Aug 10 |  Athletics
Twell decides to run for Scotland
07 Jun 09 |  Athletics
Twell's coach slams training camp
13 Aug 09 |  Athletics
Twell targets 2012 Olympic gold
09 Feb 09 |  Athletics
Masai upstages Twell in Edinburgh
10 Jan 09 |  Athletics
Twell claims Greenmount victory
03 Jan 09 |  Athletics
Twell thrilled with Olympic place
21 Jul 08 |  Athletics

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