Gressier to defend European U23 cross country title in Tilburg

France's Jimmy Gressier after winning the Samorin 2017 SPAR European Cross Country Championships men's U23 race
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France's Jimmy Gressier celebrates victory in the U23 race at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Samorin

Jimmy Gressier and Hugo Hay won gold and silver medals in the U23 race in Samorin last December and they will be looking to deliver a repeat performance at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Tilburg on 9 December.

After back-to-back fourth-place finishes in the U20 race, Gressier climbed to the top of the podium in his first year in the U23 ranks and with four counters in the first seven, Gressier led France to the team title as well.

Gressier has been in good form this winter with a third-place finish in Allonnes last month, defeating some renowned senior competitors in the process. The 21-year-old will still face tough opposition in Tilburg next month courtesy of reigning European U23 5000m champion and last year’s bronze medallist Yemaneberhan Crippa from Italy and in-form Samuel Fitwi from Germany.

The senior teams are headed by two athletes who have been particularly successful at the European Cross Country Championships: Sophie Duarte and Hassan Chahdi. Duarte, 37, won the senior women’s title in Belgrade five years ago and Chahdi is a former winner of the U20 and U23 titles and was fourth in the senior race in Samorin last year.

France will be fielding full teams in all six individual races and there will also be hopes of a medal in the mixed relay as well. The French quartet includes four-time European 3000m steeplechase champion Mahiedine Mekhissi, who will be making his European Cross Country Championships debut at the age of 33, and two-time European 800m silver medallist Renelle Lamote.

Full team here.