CHARLOTTE Purdue says gold is the aim as she prepares for the European Cross Country Championships.

The 22-year-old from Hook, who won the under-20 race in Albafeira three years ago, is hoping to claim her second Europan gold on Sunday, when she lines up for the under-23 event at this year’s championships.

“I am aiming for gold but I know there will be a lot of competition,” Purdue said. “I would not be too disappointed if I did not win but a gold medal is certainly the aim.”

Purdue sees Serbian Amela Terzic, who won the under-20 race last year and was second behind the Hook runner in 2010, as her main rival for the gold medal.

The championships are taking place in Belgrade, giving the Serb home advantage, something Purdue believes could be crucial.

“Amela Terzic is running well and is going to be the home favourite,” Purdue added. “She’s a strong athlete and running at home could be a big advantage.”

After finishing second at the British trials, Purdue had the choice of running either the senior or under-23 race.

The Hook runner admits that the longer senior race may have suited her better – but she could not resist taking her final opportunity to race as an under-23.

“The under-23 race is only 6km, which might be a little bit short for me, but hopefully I will be OK,” she said. “It’s my last chance to run as an under-23 so it makes sense to take it.

“I have never run the under-23 race before and I would like to finish as high as I possibly can in what will be my last race before I become a senior.”

Winning the European title would be a great way to end what has been a tough year for Purdue, who has only recently returned to action after 15 months out with a series of injuries.

“It’s been a long and at times hard year but hopefully I can bring it to a good end,” she said.

“The last couple of months could not have gone much better.

“Even my coach has been surprised by how I have been running so I am really happy.

“Getting a medal at the Europeans would top it all off. It would be a brilliant way to end the year.”

Purdue’s race gets under way at 11.30am on Sunday and can be watched live at