In the space of three days in July, Turkey’s Yasemin Can won double gold at the European Athletics Championships in Amsterdam. Now, will she turn her 5000m and 10,000m glory from the summer into more success in Chia tomorrow?
Can is the favourite for the 8.15km senior women's race at these SPAR European Cross Country Championships, as she heads one of the strongest ever fields for what should be a thrilling event.
The Turkish star was so dominant in Amsterdam, winning the 10,000m by over six seconds, and she will face many of her rivals from a few months ago.
Again on the starting line tomorrow in Sardinia will be Norway’s Karoline Bjerkeli Grovdal, who was third in the 10,000m and won Eurocross bronze last year, while fourth in the summer was Ireland’s Fionnuala McCormack, a double Eurocross individual gold medallist and a woman with so much experience of these championships.
Can will also face Great Britain’s Steph Twell, who was third on that day and Gemma Steel will be competing alonside her in the British team. The 2014 champion in Samokov and one of the championships’ most decorated athletes with seven medals including four golds, while France’s Sophie Duarte won the individual Eurocross title in Belgrade in 2013 and Spain’s Trihas Gebre is a runner of superb consistency.
And it is a measure of how good a field is assembled for this race that the woman who could pose the big threat to Can’s hopes of a third European gold medal in 2016 is making her senior debut in it - and already has a gold medal.
Belgium's Louise Carton thrives at cross-country, as she proved last year when she won the under-23 title in Hyères, the highlight of her brilliant winter season. A year on, she is showing superb form again in the Cross Cup series in Belgium and her decision to tackle this senior’s race, instead of defending her under-23 crown, demonstrates another level of the confidence she has in her ability on the terrain.
The tactics will be interesting too.
Will the field allow Can to make the running? While alternatively, will they try to break her in the opening stages?
It will be a race that you will not be able to take your eyes off.
Senior Women’s race starts at 12:30 (local time)
LAST YEAR'S RESULT
1. Sifan Hassan (NED) 25:47
2. Kate Avery (GBR) 25:55
3. Karoline Bjerkeli Grovdal (NOR) 25:57
1. Great Britain 33 points
2. France 78
3. Ireland 83