The traditional pre-event press conference ahead of the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Chia, held at the Chia Laguna Resort, featured five athletes who have high expectations of being among the medals on Sunday: Alina Reh (GER, U20 women), Karoline Bjerkli Grovdal, (NOR, senior women), Andrew Butchart (GBR, senior men), Antonio Abadia (ESP, senior men) and Yemaneberhan Crippa (ITA, U23 men).
Here are some of their comments.
Andrew, you are the British team captain here, what are your thoughts about that?
AB: Our team is super-strong and to captain our team is a massive honour for me. We are all here to win and if I can emulate Mo (Farah, who won the senior men’s title the last time the championships were held in Italy in 2006) then I will consider it a job well done.
You finished sixth over 5000m in Rio, how valuable was cross country running in your preparations?
AB: I give a lot of credit to it. I think cross country running is very important and I think too many young athletes shy away from it. For me, it’s help build up my strength ahead of the summer, which starts in March and runs until August or September.
Antonio, you were part of Spain’s winning team last year, how high are your chances of defending that title?
AA: I don’t think our chances are as good as last year. We have a strong team but we have different athletes to last year. The British team is very strong, so too is the Turkish team and there are others. For me personally, my aim is to get into the top 10.
Karoline, you are the top-ranked finisher from 2015 (when she was third) competing here so do you consider yourself to be the favourite?
KBG: No, although it’s true I will be running for a medal. There are a lot of strong athletes in this race, who did well at the European Championships in Amsterdam this summer so I’ll be happy with any medal.
Norway is a small country and doesn’t have so many runners so it’s good to try and motivate girls to run. I want to show them that it’s possible to come from Norway and do well at European level and then the worlds. Maybe I can inspire them to take up running.
Yemaneberhan, you’ve won the last two U20 titles but you are now in the U23 race, can you continue your winning streak?
YC: This year will be much more difficult, let’s see what happens tomorrow but I’ve been training hard. It’s a big motivation running on home soil and I hope everyone will cheer us (the Italian team) on.
Alina, Konstanze Klosterhalfen won the U20 women’s ecvent last year so tell us about your relationship?
AR: we are teammates and together we want to get a team medal, that’s our goal. In national competitions, we are rivals but tomorrow we are teammates and we will help each other to win a medal, but Konstanze is really strong.
It’s natural that everyone is coming here looking to win but what will be an acceptable result?
AR: My aim is to also get a medal, it will be difficult. We also want to get a team medal. In the end, I just want to have fun.
KBG: I will do my best. It’s difficult to predict what sort of race it will be but I am aiming for a medal.
AB: We are all here to win and I want to win but more than that, Great Britain has been top of the medal table for many years and we want that to continue.
AA: I have two objectives. First of all, to improve my personal best position at this championship, which is 12th. Secondly, we (Spain) want to get a team medal.
YC: My minimum expectation is to get into the top 10.