Turkey look to their top two for clubs glory

Turkey look to their top two for clubs glory
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Turkish distance runners Polat Kemboi Arikan and Ali Kaya here competing over 10,000m at the Zurich 2014 European Athletics Championships. 

Polat Kemboi Arikan and Ali Kaya will lead Turkey’s home bid to win the European Champion Clubs Cup for the first time this weekend.

Mersin is once more the venue for the Senior Group A competition and the host nation’s side ENKA Sports Club have two of Europe’s leading runners in their team.

Arikan, the 2012 European 10,000m champion, has to wait until the last individual event on Sunday afternoon, the 3000m, to take to the track but his presence then could be vitally important.

Twelve months ago at this same Nevin Yanit Athletics Complex, Enka were beaten to the title by just two points - 117 to 115 - by Playas De Castellon, of Spain, and victory for Arikan might help decide the destination of this year's cup.

With a personal best of 7:42.31, Enka should be guaranteed maximum points as Arikan's time is more than 19 seconds quicker than his nearest rival in the race, Castellon’s Jaouad Tougane (8:01.72).

Kaya, the European indoor 3000m champion, runs on both days, in the 1500m on Saturday and 800m 24 hours.

The second of those could be quite a race as Castellon’s Antoine Gakeme returns having won last year in a championship record.

Defending champions Castellon and Enka are joined by Sport Lisboa E Benfica (Portugal), Cosma (Lithuania), who were promoted from Group B along with their women’s team, and Sparta AM (Denmark).

After day one last year, Enka led by 61 points to 55 from Castellon but the Spaniards overturned it to become the first Spanish men’s team to win the title in 19 years.

On that Sunday, Bruno Hortelano scored a crucial win in the 200m (20.74) and he is back in that race and in the 100m too.

Benfica are strengthened by the presence of triple jump star Nelson Evora, the 2008 Olympic champion and current European Athletics indoor champion.

It was a Spanish double in Group A last year and Valencia Terra i Mar are back looking to successfully defend their women’s crown.

They face competition from Fenerbahce SK (Turkey), Sporting Clube de Portugal, Crvena Zvezda Beograd (Serbia), Sparta AM, AV Sprint (Netherlands), Cosma and Dukla Banska Bystrica (Slovakia).

Valencia triumphed by 23 points in 2015 from Fenerbahçe  - 120 to 197 - and their winners included Solange Pereira, who is back to defend her 1500m title aswell as running in the 800m.

Leiria in Portugal will host Group B of the European Champion Clubs Cup, with it all taking place on Saturday.

The men’s event will be very competitive as there are 10 teams battling for promotion. They are: Tampereen Pyrinto (Finland), Birchfield Harriers (Great Britain), StG Kreis Limburg-Weilburg (Germany), Clonliffe Harriers (Ireland), C.S. Luxembourg, Haag Atletiek (Netherlands), IK Tjalve (Norway), AD Mass Ljubljana (Slovenia), AC Stavbar Nitra (Slovakia) and Royal Excelsior Brussels (Belgium).

The women’s competition has six: Turun Urheiluliitto (Fin), Thames Valley Harriers (GB), StG Kreis Limburg-Weilburg, Dundrum South Dublin A.C (Ire), Maccabi Reshon Le’Zion (Israel) and AD Mass Ljubljana.