Junior men's final: Poland's Kulka bags surprise gold | 09.12.2012
|Szymon Kulka of Poland crosses the finish line to
win the junior men's race during the 19th SPAR
European Cross Country Championships in
Budapest. (Photo by Getty Images)
At the line, though, the Polish junior cross country champion held a comfortable four second lead over Bulgarian Mitko Tsenov with Britain's Kieran Clements collecting bronze a further ten seconds in arrears.
It is worth noting the Bulgaria had never won a medal of any kind at these championships before today.
Kulka is a European junior 10,000m bronze medallist who figures high on the junior distance rankings this year being third fastest 10,000 runner and fourth in the 5000m lists. But today he added his country's second gold medal ever at these championships.
After the opening rush, Croatia's Dino Bosnjak took an early lead to shake up the field with Belgium's Isaac Kimeli and Kulka in attendance.
Of those three only Kulka was to make the podium as Bosnjak eventually finished eighth and Kimeli sixth.
On lap two of four it was Germany's Johannes Motschmann who decided the pace was not fast enough but with the field watching each other it was no more than a passing phase and the German finally ended up 12th.
Although at the half-way mark it was still Motschmann in front with Kulka following comfortably, but Tsenov was starting to make his presence felt. Clements meanwhile was lurking in the background not yet ready to play his hand.
As the runners entered the barn with two thirds of the race gone, Kulka and Tsenov held a five metre lead over Clements and Kimeli and the medals were becoming defined.
By the time they went though the barn on the final lap, Kulka had already opened up a comfortable 20m gap and Poland could begin to celebrate its second gold.
In the team race, it was tight at the top with Russia edging it by 50 to 51 over France with Britain on 54 points.
Click here for complete results.