With a lap to go at the end of a thrilling men’s race in the European 10,000m Cup in London on Saturday (19), Frenchman Mourad Amdouni hit the bell a stride, maybe two, ahead of Germany’s Richard Ringer. It was going to be a final lap to remember.
Night had replaced day at the Parliament Hill Athletics Track in north-west London, the sun had long gone, a chill was in the air, flames sparkled from the fire juggler on the back straight and the DJ’s music grew louder.
But for now the eyes of the big crowd were focused clearly on the duel at the front.
From the start, Amdouni had not been out of the top three behind the pacemakers on his debut at the distance. At 30, here was his chance to make arguably his biggest impression on the track since winning European U20 5000m gold almost 11 years ago.
But Ringer, 29, had other ideas. The pace intensified, there was nothing between them and as they reached the final 100 metres, passing under the covered section on the home straight, it was anyone’s race.
The line beckoned, Amdouni was in front but Ringer had just enough, edging past his rival to snatch one of the best wins of his career in a year where every road is leading to the European Championships in Berlin this August.
— Athletics Weekly (@AthleticsWeekly) May 19, 2018
Ringer won in 27:36.52, a blink of an eye ahead of Amdouni in 27:36.80. Italy’s European U23 5000m champion Yemaneberhan Crippa, 21, was third on his debut with Spain’s Adel Mechaal in fourth in 27:50.56, the first time he had also tackled the distance.
Amdouni may have missed the French record of 27:22.78 but Crippa had run his way into his country’s record books as he broke Francesco Panetta’s 33-year-old Italian U23 best of 27:44.65. It was two records in as many races for Crippa on the track as he also broke Panetta’s 5000m mark with 13:18.83 at the start of the month.
Ringer’s best successes had previously been at shorter distances. He is the reigning European bronze medallist outdoors at 5000m and indoors at 3000m. He also set a championship record when he won the 3000m at the European Athletics Team Championships in Braunschweig, Germany, to lead his nation to the title in 2014.
Now he cannot wait to run in front his own fans again in August, when Berlin co-hosts the first multi-sports European Championships with Glasgow.
“That was the beginning of my career,” said Ringer, as he reflected on the significance of his win in Braunschweig. “I said I want to win that race – and here, I said I want to win as it is a championship. There is no border in my mind.
“It is exciting to be in good form in a year when the championship is in my home country. I don’t feel a lot pressure because I have won the bronze medals and it makes sense when I say I want to win.
“There is a gap of three or four days between the 10,000m and 5000m and there are no heats in the 5000m, so maybe I will do both. Maybe I am the new Mo Farah!”
Official results from a high quality men's race at the European 10,000m Cup with seven runners breaking 28 minutes!
— European Athletics (@EuroAthletics) May 19, 2018
Amdouni, the runner-up, said: “I am disappointed because the time was very good and I was so close to winning. I wanted to go a little bit faster to break the French record but it was not fast enough in the first 5km. The European Championships will be tactical so I will not have the chance to break the record there.”
Great Britain’s Chris Thompson led the way behind the pacemakers for the majority of the opening half of the race in which the runners hit the 5000m checkpoint in under 14 minutes. Mechaal was second from Amdouni and Britain’s Andy Vernon, with Ringer gradually moving closer.
Amdouni then moved to the front and with seven laps to go, he was aiming to stretch away as Crippa joined the leaders but Ringer would not let him out of his sight and he timed his finish to perfection.
It was a memorable race for the host nation, with the event doubling up as Britain's trial race for Berlin as well as the British 10,000m Championships.
Chasing the qualifying time of 28:20, Alex Yee, 20, was fifth in a superb 27:51.94 on his debut to bank one of the first two automatic spots with Vernon sixth in 27:52.32 and Thompson seventh in 27:52.56. It was the first time three British athletes had broken 28 minutes in the same 10,000m since 1983.
Earlier in the evening, Italy’s Lorenzo Dini won the B race in 28:30.01 from Austrian Andreas Vojta (28:33.99) and Ukraine’s Vasyl Koval (28:35.44).