Sweden had much to celebrate at the Warandeloop in Tilburg with Napoleon Solomon and Meraf Bahta winning the men’s and women’s senior races on the road to the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Samorin on 10 December.
After Samorin, the championships will be heading back to Tilburg after a thirteen year hiatus. The 2018 event will be staged on 9 December at the Beekse Bergen Safari Park, also the home of the annual Warandeloop.
Solomon is one of the in-form athletes on the cross country circuit this winter and the 23-year-old, whose string of victories have included a double at the Swedish Cross Country Championships and gold at the Nordic Cross Country Championships, claimed victory in the senior men’s 10.3km in 31:40.
Solomon defeated a top-class continental field on a traditional-style cross country course with former winners Richard Ringer from Germany (31:46) and Khalid Choukoud from the Netherlands (31:54) second and third respectively.
The senior women’s 8.3km largely went to the script with Bahta, a world and Olympic finalist over 1500m, outsprinting reigning champion Fabienne Schlumpf from Switzerland, 28:41 to 28:43. Germany’s Elena Burkard was credited with the same time in third.
Bahta’s place on the Swedish team for Samorin has already been confirmed. In her only appearance at the European Cross Country Championships to date, Bahta came away with a bronze medal in freezing conditions in Samokov three years ago.
For Solomon, his best showing at the European Cross Country Championships thus far is a sixth-pace finish in the U23 race last year but there could be a medal to toast in Samorin next month based on recent performances.