Kaya and Can to defend SPAR European Cross Country Championships titles

It's gold for Kaya – and this time it is Aras
Getty Images

Turkey won gold and silver in the men's senior race with Aras Kaya and Polat Kemboi Arikan at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships.

Aras Kaya and Yasemin Can will defend the SPAR European Cross Country Championships crowns they won 12 months ago in the Italian town of Chia as part of a strong Turkish squad for this year’s championships in Samorin, Slovakia, on Sunday 10 December.

Twelve months ago, kaya won by three seconds from his compatriot and 2014 champion Polat Kemboi Arikan who is also in the senior men’s team along with 2015 champion Ali Kaya.

Turkey could only take the senior men’s team bronze medal 12 months ago, but they will be bidding to dethrone champions Great Britain as another member of their squad is Kaan Kigen Özbilen, who finished 10th in 2016.

Alongside Can, who will celebrate her 21st birthday the day after this year's championships, will be Chia silver medallist Meryem Akdağ and the pair helped propel Turkey to team gold in 2016.

Gold is the best present for birthday girl Can
Gold is the best present for birthday girl Can

Turkey's Yasemin Can and Meryem Akda won gold and silver in the women's senior race at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships.

Among other familiar names in the Turkish squad is 2014 U20 women’s champion Emine Hatun Tuna, who will be part of U23 team that could also challenge for a place on the podium in the team competition.

Turkey have also entered a team for the inaugural mixed relay.

Senior men
Ali Kaya
Aras Kaya
Kaan Kigen Özbilen
Polat Kemboi Arıkan
Alper Demir 

Senior women
Yasemin Can
Meryem Akdağ
Özlem Kaya
Esma Aydemir
Sevilay Eytemiş

 U23 men
Saffet Elkatmış
Süleyman Bekmezci
Onur Aras
Ersin Tekal~
Ferhat Bozkurt

U23 women
Büşra Nur Koku
Emine Hatun Tuna
Yayla Kılıç
Fatma Demir
Tubay Erdal 

U20 men
Ramazan Barbaros
Sezgin Ataç
Ömer Amaçtan
Ramazan Başbuğ
Abdurrahman Gediklioglu

U20 women
Latife Güneş
Pınar Demirtaş
Emine Akbingöl
Gülnaz Uskun
Semra Karaaslan 

Mixed Relay
Fatma Arık
Sebahat Akpınar
Levent Ateş
Ramazan Özdemir