ENGLAND junior international Max Davis is thrilled to have been asked to join the England Athletics Junior Talent Programme for 2021.

Davis - who competes for Avon Valley Runners - has been invited to attend the scheme which is part of England Athletics Talented Athlete and Coach Pathway programme.

It will ensure both Davis and his coach, Steve Williams get access to comprehensive support to allow the youngster the best chance of fulfilling his potential.

“It was much needed after the year we have had!” said Davis.

“It is nice to see that England Athletics believe in what Steve and I are doing.

“They clearly think we are doing the right things, so that is very reassuring.

“It is very exciting for us both.”

Williams, who lives in Bradford-on-Avon, said the pair will receive mentoring from leading coach British Tom Craggs, who works with many international and club athletes including marathon runner Tracy Barlow.

Davis, who started a degree in sports science at Bath University in the autumn, will also receive help with strength and conditioning work and will receive access to regular physiological testing.

At the end of a year in which the 19-year-old England international and former English Schools’ medallist has only raced three times due to the pandemic, the news has given Davis an extra spring in his step heading towards the new year.

“I have been training okay and really looking forward to racing again in 2021 when it becomes safe,” added Davis.

“I think we are all raring to get going again!”

There has been a steady return to racing recently, and on Sunday Davis’ Avon Valley Runners’ clubmate Ed Knudsen finished runner-up in the Westonbirt House Christmas 10k road race.

Knudsen had quite a battle with James Bellward of the RAF before the latter edged away to claim victory in a time of 34:36, with Knudsen 16 seconds adrift.

His wife Gemma Knudsen was also prominent, finishing third in the women’s race clocking 43:40. Calne SMART’s Ben Weston was 12th (41:12) as just short of 500 runners finished.

In the recent Chilly 10k road race around the Castle Combe motor racing circuit, Calne Running Club’s Michael Gilbert finished third veteran (35:32) as he placed 14th overall from a field of almost 300 runners.

The proposed 2020-21 South West Inter-Counties Cross Country Championships have been brought forward to Sunday January 3rd – and will be held at a new venue.

Permission to use last year’s venue of Aldon Hill, Yeovil, has been withdrawn, so the meeting is moving to RNAS Merryfield, which is eight miles south-east of Taunton, near Ilminster. The same venue hosted the English Schools’ Cross Country Championships in 2012.