Familiar faces to spearhead Spain's mixed relay title defence in Lisbon

Esther Guerrero
Getty Images

Esther Guerrero was part of Spain's gold medal-winning team in the mixed relay at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Tilburg last year

Spaniards Solange Pereira and Esther Guerrero will be hoping to maintain their 100 percent medal success in the third staging of the mixed relay at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Lisbon on Sunday (8).

A year ago in Tilburg, Guerrero and Pereira ran the second and fourth legs respectively of the Spanish team which secured victory over France with Belarus coming through on the final leg to win the bronze medal. 

Twelve months before that when the race made its inception at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Samorin, Pereira and Guerrero ran the first and third legs respectively as Spain took bronze behind inaugural winners Great Britain & NI and the Czech Republic.

Once more the defending champions have a strong squad with mixed relay stalwarts Pereira and Guerrero will be joining forces with newcomers Sergio Jimenez and Pablo Sanchez. Jimenez is the better known of the two male runners having competed for Spain this year at the Glasgow 2019 European Athletics Indoor Championships and Bydgoszcz 2019 European Athletics Team Championships.

Twelve teams have entered the mixed relay and one of the strongest teams on paper is Sweden. European 800m silver medallist Andreas Kramer will step up in distance alongside fellow 800m specialist Lovisa Lindh while former European 5000m champion Meraf Bahta, who has two individual medals from the European Cross Country Championships to her name, brings excellent cross country credentials to the Swedish team.

Great Britain’s Sarah McDonald, who was part of their gold-medal winning foursome in Samorin, returns in a bid to win her second title. Jonny Davies will also be looking to embellish his medal haul as he assumes relay duty some four years after winning the individual U23 title in Hyeres, France. 

Returning athletes is very much a common theme this year with France’s 1500m specialist Alexis Miellet in the hunt for more medal success. In Tilburg, Miellet set the French team on their way as he ran the first leg of the silver medal-winning team. Miellet also won a gold medal in the U23 team race in Samorin in 2017. 

And there are some familiar names on the Belarusian squad. From their bronze medal-winning team from Tilburg last year, Siarhei Platonau and Volha Nemahai - who ran the third and fourth legs respectively to beat the Brits for a surprise bronze medal - will be eyeing a return to the podium.

Portugal’s Patricia Silva will have extra incentive for wanting to make her mark. Not only will she be looking to bring the host nation glory but a medal would be the perfect way to celebrate her 20th birthday which arrives the following day.

Silva - whose father Rui Silva won Olympic 1500m bronze in 2004 and bronze at the 2007 European Cross Country Championships - is the youngest athlete in this race and she will join Salome Afonso, Luis Monteiro and Paulo Rosario as the quartet wearing the colours of the home nation.

Mixed relay result (5560m) in 2018:

1. Spain 16:10
2. France 16:12
3. Belarus 16:21
4. Great Britain & NI 16:24