Athletics - Growing up in Manchester helped Coulson win gold

Jessica Coulson believes growing up in the north helped brace her for the arctic conditions she faced on her way to claiming U23 European Cross Country Championships gold in Budapest.

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People walk their dogs in the snow at Lyme Park near Manchester (Reuters)

The 22-year-old stole the limelight after a dazzling display in Hungary as she took the gold medal in the women's under-23 6km race with a time of 20 minutes 40 seconds.

The youngster was the only member of the Great Britain and Northern Ireland team to claim an individual gold, helping to retain the same title won by fellow Brit Emma Pallant in 2011, as the squad finished top of the medal table for the fourth time in five years.

And Coulson believes that although she ran in some of the toughest conditions possible, she feels growing up and training in Stockport and Manchester really helped brace her for the challenge she faced.

She said: "They were telling us it was about minus seven and was obviously exceptionally cold. I have never raced in conditions like that before.

"I am however from the north and I go to Switzerland a lot, so I am used to the cold and that definitely helped, but I still wrapped up very warm.

"The doctors and medical team were great and I was alright in shorts even though some girls ran in leggings.

"It was very interesting to say the least."

With the Rio Olympics taking place in 2016, the prospect of another golden star representing Team GB on the track is a real possibility following Coulson propelling herself into the limelight.

After previously competing in both 5km and 10km races, Coulson is perfectly placed to make the transition to track for the Games.

But even though she marked her first inclusion in the GB team for five years with such an emphatic win, she is not letting Olympic talk go to her head.

"It was a good trip and was really enjoyable as well. Firstly I wanted to justify my inclusion and get back to where I knew I should be and with the support of my family and coach I have done that," she added.

"It is however definitely a dream of mine to run at the Olympics. I am just playing it by ear at the moment though.

"But yes hopefully one day in the future I think so, fingers crossed."

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