Junior men - Double gold for Crippa as he seizes the moment

Junior men - Double gold for Crippa as he seizes the moment
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Italy's Yemaneberhan Crippa demonstrated his talent by taking the men's junior title by 15 seconds.

Italy's Yemaneberhan Crippa is the junior men's champion after a dramatic second race at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Samokov on Sunday.

No wonder Crippa could not take a smile off his face because the outcome of this event could have been so different had Russia's Aleksandr Novikov not got his timings all wrong.

With two laps left, Novikov had seized control of the race where a group of five men had looked to be dominating.

Crippa, Spain's Carlos Mayo, Novikov and Turkish pair Suleyman Bekmezci and Saffet Elkatmis had been the quintet in charge.

But then Novikov burst away, with a break that seemed impossible for the rest to make up.

He was increasing his speed and looking all the way the champion - but the only problem was that as the bell came, he slowed as he did not seem to realise there was another lap to go.

It was a bitter blow to a runner who had been in such control and as he dropped his pace, looking shocked at the outcome, Crippa, 18, went past him and was never going to be caught.

Crippa could well be a future star.

"I am so happy with my victory," said Crippa. "It was a tough race, especially the second lap. The course was well prepared, I was confident and I saved the power for the final metres."

He controlled himself on the final lap and crossed the line for a win where he was, in the end, not challenged as he kept his footing as the sun slowly thawed out the course.

Crippa triumphed in 20:07 from Mayo in 20:22 with another Italian, Said Ettaqy, third in 20:28.

Novikov, in the end, finished back in 55th in 21:38.

Crippa and Ettaqy led the way for Italy to take the team gold medal with 18 points from Spain with 41 and Turkey with 70.

They were supported in their four scoring athletes with Yohanes Chiappinelli in fifth in 20:33 and Alessandro Giacobazzi in ninth in 20:41.

Ettaqy said: "I am happy to be on the podium because it was a tough race. I was not among the favourites and I entered the Italian team at the last minute, so people were surprised by my performance."