Get Inspired: Emelia Gorecka aims for more European success

GB women dominate Euro cross county

Emelia Gorecka is targeting a fourth successive medal at this weekend's European Cross Country Championships as she completes her final junior season before making the step up to the senior level.

The 19-year-old has medalled at the championships for the last three years, winning gold in 2011 and a silver in 2012. But, as she explains to BBC Sport, her second in Budapest has taught her a lot going into this year's competition.

"I did learn a lot from it and you don't always learn that much from winning," she said. "Training this year has been a lot better and I 'm in a really good place with regards to training and my lifestyle.

"I'm happy with the way I've prepared in the last few months. I'm going to the start line in the best shape possible.

"I've put a lot of work into the race. I know I'm going to have to fight for it. I know it's not easy but it would be fantastic to come away with gold."

She is one of Britain's brightest prospects in long-distance running and has shown great determination to overcome scoliosis, a medical conditionexternal-link where a person's spine is abnormally curved from side to side.

The condition threatened her career and at one point meant she had to wear a back brace for 23 hours a day, only ever taking it off for training.

Despite her medical setbacks, Gorecka has certainly proven herself so far in her career and is looking forward to targeting gold in Belgrade, which she describes as being a "fantastic way" to end her junior career.

As a youngster, Gorecka took up running with her older brother who "did every sport possible", before deciding to join Dorking and Mole Valley Athletics Club in Surrey. She also ran with her school and her love of the sport just progressed from there.

At the age of eleven, the Surrey-based runner was showing a real talent and moved to Aldershot, Farnham and District Athletic Club where she started working with former long-distance runner Mick Woods, who remains her coach to this day.

Now into her late teenage years, Gorecka has recently started life at university, but has been able to combine her academic career with continued running success.

"During exam periods I use running as a form of relaxation so academic and sporting demands on my time counter and complement each other really well. I'm half student, half athlete right now," she said. "I've two different worlds going on. I enjoy it.

"I've never had a problem in being motivated to do something that I really want. To achieve something I know I'm going to have to work hard, that's reflected in my academic life and my training as well."

Gorecka has always shown great determination and has her battle with scoliosis, which threatened to end her promising sporting career almost before it started. Her medical battle has played its own role in making her the athlete she is today.

At the point of diagnosis, she was told that there was a strong possibility she would not be able to train again.

"I had to wear the body brace which controlled the way I grew over the next three years of my life," she explained.

"It made me realise for the first time how much I wanted to be an athlete and how much I wanted to compete - I didn't want to sit back and watch everybody else do that whilst I was wearing a body brace for three years. It just didn't seem fair.

"It was a mental battle at first. Loads of people have different types of barriers to overcome and this is my barrier.

"I am fortunate to have a spine that is stabilising. The curves counter each other. I am able to be a competitive athlete which some people are unable to do".

Gorecka was given some good news on her 18th birthday as she was told she no longer needed the brace, but despite this she still keeps her condition under close supervision.

"I still wear a back harness, a material harness, not a plastic one," Gorecka revealed. "It's not as harsh on my back to where it over my shoulders and my upper back. Because of the rotation in my spine, I also have severe muscular rotation.

"My arms can't move freely, my body finds it hard to move efficiently. I'm trying to see if I can improve my running style and improve my running in general but this is trial and error. Because my spine is stabilised, I can now try out different things."

The next transition for the European medallist is the jump up from junior to senior level. This is a challenge, but one she is relishing.

"I train with a lot of senior international athletes now so the change from junior to senior level should be fairly smooth," she said. "Hopefully I will be making a mark in domestic and international competition soon.

"There's a lot to learn but I'm willing to do that and there will be ups and downs.

"Hopefully I will progress towards the Commonwealth Games, the World Championships and somewhere along the line the Olympic Games."