Lamdassem eyes the missing gold | 29.11.2012
|Spanish hopes will once again ride on Ayad
Who finished second in the last two senior men's races at the event is Spain's Ayad Lamdassem which makes his participation in Sunday week's race in Budapest even more significant.
Lamdassem will be there again among the favourites and is one of 31 runners named in their team which includes Spanish champion Diana Martin.
The Moroccan-born athlete was beaten to gold by three seconds in 2010 in Albufeira as Ukraine's Serhiy Lebid won in 29:15.
Amazingly, 12 months ago in Velenje, the winning time was exactly the same as Belgian Atelaw Yeshe Bekele broke early to triumph with Lamdassem second, five seconds behind this time.
It makes for a thrilling men's race because Lebid, seeking his 10th European cross title, and Bekele are both back in Budapest while Lamdassem will be determined to go that one place higher on the podium.
In Slovenia, Lamdassem was still delighted with his finish. He said: "I'm very happy. I was second last year and second again this year. The race was very difficult for me. I was forced to follow the best athlete."
Spain's men have finished third in the team event over those past two races, on the back of Lamdassem's silver-medal run, and they too could be back among the medals this time.
Lamdassem is joined by Carles Castillejo, Javier Guerro, former miler Juan Carlos Higuero, veteran and former steeple runner Antonio David Jimenez and Alberto Lozano.
Martin, who showed her form when she was second in 19th Cross Internacional de Soria earlier this month, leads the women's team of Alessandra Aguilar, Azucena Diaz, Lidia Rodriguez and Marta Silvestre.
If Lebid succeeds at the age of 36, it will add to his remarkable achievement having won nine European cross country titles.
He is big name in the Ukrainian squad of 21 and the country has teams for five of the six races, the exception being the senior women.
But as much as it is about the present and the past with Lebid, it is also about the future.
Now 24, Dmytro Lashyn remains a force within the sport having established himself five years ago on the junior season in Europe.
In 2007 he won the 10,000m European junior title in Hengelo and then took bronze in Toro at in the SPAR European Cross Country junior race.
Budapest will be a good indicator of his progress and along with Lebid, they will combine with Ihor Geletiy and Bogdan Semenovych in what will be a strong Ukrainian men's team.