Next stop the marathon for Lalli | 11.12.2012
|Andrea Lalli of Italy on the podium after winning the
senior men's title at the SPAR European Cross
Country Championships in Budapest on Sunday.
The only person who seemed to have any faith in his capabilities was the man himself who came to Szentendre with the overwhelming belief that his time had come: "I came to Budapest to win, so why should I be surprised?" claimed the Italian who won on the rock hard Szentendre snow by a country mile.
"The truth is I am good when there are no injuries or problems of any other kind," an elated winner told the FIDAL website. In an extraordinarily exuberant display, Lalli led from gun to tape to destroy the best that Europe has to offer.
"I know that at least in Europe, anyone can win. No, I wanted to lead right from the start, but when after few kilometres I could see that the rest were suffering and I felt fine, then I put my head down and took off."
Apart from an injury free period, there was another facet to Lalli's preparation that gave him the confidence he would become the first man to lift all three European age-group titles. He had just come down from a month in Iten, Kenya, where he has been training for the last two years with Gianni Di Madonna's group.
"It was quiet and it was decisive," said the 25-year-old. "As the days passed I became more and more convinced that I was going to win. Kenya is now my second home. I have got everything I need there: good training companions, ideal conditions at 2,400m altitude and a lot of friends. It is not all about athletics."
Lalli comes from a mountainous area of Molise in south east Italy and says because of that he has an affinity with Iten that maybe others might not experience: "Human relationships count for more with me than what other might call modern conveniences. I would much rather spend an evening talking with a couple of friends than watching television."
Lalli's next visit to Africa comes in January when he will start to prepare for his first marathon. In March, he set a lifetime best of 61:11 over the half distance when he finished second in the Stramilano.
"Together with my coach, Luciano de Pardo, I just want to make a start at the distance and have a valuable experience," explained Lalli. "I would also like to do some track races in the summer, but it clear my future is on the roads."