Yasemin Can can already reflect on a sparkling season which includes a brace of European titles in Amsterdam but a third gold medal at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships might be just that little bit more special as this year’s event takes place on her 20th birthday.
Can is eligible for the under-23 race for the next three editions of the SPAR European Cross Country Championships but the Kenyan-born Turk had the beating of the continent’s best seniors at the European Athletics Championships, employing front-running tactics to win both the 5000m and 10,000m.
But it was at the Olympic Games where she announced herself to a global audience. The 19-year-old stuck with the leaders in that incredible 10,000m final through the first half and while she lost contact in the last four kilometres, her time of 30:26.41 for seventh was a lifetime best and European under-23 record by nearly a minute.
While relatively inexperienced at cross country, Can will arrive in Chia with the best track credentials and she looks set to be backed up by a strong team. European steeplechase silver medallist Ozlem Kaya and Meryem Akda - a 9:36.54 performer over the barriers - are also training with the Euro Cross in mind.
By contrast, Ali Kaya dropped out of the Olympic 10,000m final but the reigning champion in the senior men’s race will be aiming to end his season on a high note by becoming the first runner since eventual nine-time winner, Ukraine’s Sergiy Lebid to win back-to-back titles.
One of his main rivals will be very familiar to Kaya: Polat Arikan Kemboi. Kemboi outsprinted Kaya for the European 10,000m title in Amsterdam and at the 2014 European Cross Country Championships where they claimed gold and silver respectively.
And with Aras Kaya - the European steeplechase silver medallist - also due to compete, Turkey might also fancy their chances of taking a medal in the men’s under-23 race.