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Crippa and Riva land another Italian 1-2 in Roma 2024

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  • Crippa and Riva land another Italian 1-2 in Roma 2024

Another day, another championship record and another Italian 1-2.

Yemaneberhan Crippa and Pietro Riva served up another course of Italian brilliance as they won gold and silver in the men’s half marathon at the Roma 2024 European Athletics Championships on Sunday (9) morning. 

Matching the perfect running conditions in the Eternal City, Crippa was calm and cool throughout. He executed a perfect race, picked his moments to strike out and was rewarded with gold and a new championship record of 1:01:03.

Upping the pace

Buoyed by their nation’s success so far with five gold medals and ten overall in the opening two days, Italian Yohanes Chiappinelli led the way from the gun through to halfway, with eighteen athletes in the lead bunch.  

Soon after, Israel’s Maru Teferi, world and European silver medallist in the marathon, made the first significant move, upping the pace and whittling the lead bunch down to seven. Chiappinelli was among those who dropped off the pace. But his Italian team-mates Crippa and Riva went with it.

Crippa, 10,000m gold medallist two years ago in Munich 2022, always looked the big danger. And he upped the ante at around 16km. 

It was not a decisive break, but it left German duo Amanal Petros and Samuel Fitwi Sibhatu, Riva, Teferi and Crippa himself to fight out the three medals as they closed in on the finish in the Stadio Olimpico.

Germany’s Fitwi Sibhatu was the first to give way in the shadow of the stadium. Then as they entered the tunnel to the track, Crippa broke clear with Petros. The German stumbled with 300 metres to go and Crippa was away.

Riva started to get the better of Teferi and he drew further encouragement as Petros laboured in the finishing straight, sprinting past for silver in 1:01:04. Petros hung on for bronze in 1:01:07 with Teferi three seconds back and Fitwi Sibhatu fifth in a personal best of 1:01:17.

"I wanted to confirm the victory in Munich 2022 at all costs, but it wasn't easy," admitted Crippa. "Perhaps due to the weather, perhaps due to the tension, I didn't feel in my best conditions. Before entering the stadium I wasn't sure I could make it, which is why I tried to stay ahead of everyone.

"Then, in the stadium, I realised that I could win, even though Pietro Riva came really close. I was a bit uncertain about the strategy to follow, but luckily everything went well. Running at home is always a great emotion, the stadium cheering for you gives you goosebumps.

"In the past days, Italy has collected a lot of medals: they are definitely a stimulus, but they give you a responsibility too. Because they force you to win as well. This victory makes me realise that I made the right choice in choosing road running over track. Now I have two months to prepare for the marathon at the Olympics, and I don't think I'll be competing in 10.000 meter here in Rome."

Riva, who is coached by 1998 and 2006 European marathon champion Stefano Baldini, was thrilled with his performance. "This is definitely the most beautiful moment of my career," he said. "I never expected to finish second, especially I was not in the top form in the last days. Instead, during the race I felt really great and in the final stretch I was able to come back and secure this amazing medal."

Best ever championship for Italy

Italy also took the team title with Eyob Faniel finishing strongly in eighth with 1:01:29, ably supporting Crippa and Riva for a combined time of 3:03:34. 

Teferi had the consolation of team silver with Israel team-mates Gashau Ayale (7th 1:01:28) and Girmaw Amare (9th, 1:01.39). Germany took the bronze with Filimon Abraham (22nd, 1:03:09) backing Petros and Fitwi Sibhatu. 

The result was the third Italian 1-2 of a remarkable championships for the host nation, following the women’s 20km walk and men’s 100m. It means Italy have already had their best ever European Athletics Championships with six gold, four silver and one bronze and still four evening sessions to come.

Chris Broadbent for European Athletics

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