Gold is the best present for birthday girl Can

Gold is the best present for birthday girl Can
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Turkey's Yasemin Can and Meryem Akda won gold and silver in the women's senior race at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships.

Yasemin Can completed her amazing year by winning double gold again on her 20th birthday in Chia as she led Turkey to glory in the senior women's race at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships.

Can added this triumph to her 5000m and 10,000m successes from the European Athletics Championships in Amsterdam in July, as she demonstrated once more her power and ability to dictate races.

Winning in 24:46, Can spearheaded a Turkish one-two as Meryem Akda was second in 24:56 with Norway's Karoline Bjerkeli Grovdal taking bronze for the second year in row (25:26).

Can and Meryem were joined by Ozlem Kaya (13th in 26:12) and Sevilay Eytemis (19th in 26:32) as Turkey won team gold with 35 points from Great Britain with 51, whose leading runner was Steph Twell (sixth in 25:40), with Romania in third with 79, as Ancuta Bobocel's superb fourth place in 25:27 brought podium reward.

At the finish, Can and Meryem were hugging in delight after great performances in a race that was slow to start before they made their emphatic impact.

"Victory is a nice birthday present. I am going to celebrate it tonight with my Turkish team and I look forward to it." said Can.

"Chia is a beautiful place but it was very cold when I arrived. I am glad that the weather was so nice and sunny today. The only complication was a slight wind."

Can was in third place at the first marker at 590m of this 8.15km race as Bobocel was the fastest, but that lead did not last long.

The Turkish star moved ahead around 1000m and as Meryem followed her, it became an interesting battle for bronze between Grovdal, Twell, Ireland's double Eurocross champion Fionnuala McCormack and Spain's Trihas Gebre.

They were together for so much of the second half of the race that it was becoming a game of chess over who would make the move first, while all the time Can and Meryem were stretching away, with the outcome of who would win never in doubt because of the fluency and speed that the leader had.

She had been such a force in Amsterdam and now, on a fast surface in the warm, dry conditions she talked about, Can was unstoppable and Meryem is set to return, such was her impression of this part of Sardinia.

"I like this area very much and Chia would be a nice place also for a training camp." she said. "Training hard and regularly was the key to winning this medal."

In the chasing pack, Grovdal, who had finished third behind Can in the 10,000m in the summer, eventually broke away and there was no catching her as she made the podium again for her third European medal in 12 months.

"I am glad with my performance," said Grovdal. "I managed to control the race all the time and I felt comfortable."