SPAR European Cross Country Championships video highlights

SPAR European Cross Country Championships
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This year's edition of the SPAR European Cross Country Championships were held at the Bela Vista Park in Lisbon

The 26th edition of the SPAR European Cross Country Championships were held at the Bela Vista Park in Lisbon and the theme of the day was repeat champions.

The course was wholly different to twelve months prior but five of the six individual champions successfully defended their titles in the Portuguese capital, translating their form on a flat and muddy course in Tilburg to the twists and undulations in Lisbon.

In the first race of the day, Jakob Ingebrigtsen capped his U20 career by winning his fourth successive individual title by an unprecedented winning margin of 38 seconds. Ingebrigtsen, who won his first title in Chia four years ago, only led by four seconds as the bell chimed but the double European outdoor champion forged clear on the last lap and still didn’t appear to be working unduly hard.

Ingebrigtsen has taken down countless European U20 records and has scared the sub-3:30 and sub-13:00 barriers for 1500m and 5000m this summer but don't expect the 19-year-old to take too much time off from training over the Christmas period.

Italy’s Nadia Battocletti faced a field including four European U20 champions in the women’s U20 race but Battocletti ran clear of a field which included European U20 5000m champion Klara Lukan from Slovenia and home favourite Mariana Machado on the course of the last lap to graduate into the senior ranks with another U20 gold medal for posterity.

In the men’s U23 race, France’s Jimmy Gressier completed hat-tricks in both the individual and team races to bring his tally up to eight gold medals from the SPAR European Cross Country Championships. The hard underfoot conditions at the Bela Vista Park meant repeating last year’s knee slide through the finishing tape would have been sheer folly but the Frenchman had a different celebration up his sleeve for Lisbon.

Gressier burst onto the scene individually in Samorin two years ago and the Frenchman is the first athlete in championship history to win three successive titles in the U23 race at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships. 

Denmark’s Anna Emilie Moller made it four wins for four reigning champions in the women’s U23 race. The Dane was content to bide her time in the early stages but the highest European finisher at the World Cross Country Championships in Aarhus brought that form to Lisbon, pulling away mid-race and amassing a winning margin of 39 seconds.

The only individual winner who did not successfully defend their title was Norway’s Filip Ingebrigtsen who still finished a creditable 12th as Robel Fsiha became just the second Swedish athlete to win a medal at the European Cross Country Championships.

And the programme concluded with the senior women’s race in which Yasemin Can from Turkey returned from injury to win her fourth successive gold medal ahead of Norway’s Karoline Bjerkeli Grovdal.

There was also another team medal for the hosts as veterans Dulce Felix and Carla Salome Rocha delivered rousing performances in front of their home fans, finishing inside the top-10 individually to lead Portugal to the team bronze.

Great Britain & NI finished on top of the medal table once again courtesy of five gold medals, including victory in the mixed relay with Jonny Davies anchoring the Brits to the title.