Switzerland’s Maude Mathys lived up to all expectations on the hills of home today by winning the European Mountain Running Championships for a third year in a row on Sunday (7).
But what a race and what a performance it proved to be as she had to overtake the woman whose record she matched in a thrilling second half of the 10.1km event.
Mathys triumphed in Zermatt on the lower part of the Matterhorn as she beat Austria’s Andrea Mayr, who had created history herself by becoming the first woman to win this title three years in a row, between 2013 and 2015.
With four kilometres left, it was Mayr, who also won the crown in 2005, leading by around 10 seconds but Mathys has a preference for uphill courses - and this year’s course had a climb of 1020 metres - and she made the most of it, powering home to win in 1:00:18 by just over a minute from Mayr in 1:01:19 and France’s Christel Dewalle in 1:02:48.
The finish in Riffelberg came at a 45-metre descent when it is all about balance and Mathys knew what a tough morning it had been and the challenge she faced against Mayr.
'It was a very close race,” acknowledged Mathys, who also won team bronze. “She [Mayr] came back on me in the climbs. It's on the flat parts that I could make the difference and I am relieved to have held to the end. I wanted so much to bring back this gold medal in front of this Swiss public. It's a great pride.'
There was gold success for Italy in the team event as Elisa Sortini led the nation home in fifth in 1:04:13 as they won the title with 22 points from France with 26 and Switzerland with 31.
Die Berglauf-EM heute in #Zermatt bot hochkarätige Rennen und packende Entscheidungen. Hier ist das Highlightvideo des Tages! @EuroAthletics @UBSathletics @srfsport @RTSsport @RSIsport #Wallis #Valais #Berglauf #coursedemontagne pic.twitter.com/cdpLWSGNao— Swiss Athletics (@SwissAthletics) July 7, 2019
Individual and team gold for Adkin in the senior men's race
Hands raised in celebration with a few strides to go and punching the air with his right arm as he crossed the line, Jakob Adkin produced a tremendous display to become the first Brit to win a senior men’s title in event history – and spearhead his squad to team gold.
As the crowd gathered at the finish, Adkin came into view looking sharp and in control and with a big lead on his way to the biggest success of his career.
His victory over the 10.1km distance in 53:21 from Norway’s Stian Overgaard Aarvik in 53.46 saw the pair beat some of the biggest names in the sport. Italy’s 2017 champion Xavier Chevrier was third in 54:02.7 and his teammate Martin Dematteis, the 2016 gold medallist, wasn’t a factor in tenth in 55:06.
It was quite a day for Great Britain as they won the men’s team gold for the first time as well. Adkin was backed up ably by Robbie Simpson in seventh in 54:49 and Andrew Douglas in ninth in 55.00 as they took the title with 17 points, just one point ahead of Italy, and Norway on 23.
In doing so, the Brits became only the third nation to win the men's team title. Outside of France in 2017, this crown has been won exclusively by the Italians.
Romania’s Gabriel Bularda from Romania, the reigning two-time U20 champion, was 27th on his senior debut in 57:54.
Double gold for Dugdale while Havlickova dominates the women's U20 race
A year after missing on the title by seven seconds, Joseph Dugdale gave Britain its first gold of the day as he took the men's U20 crown as the team celebrated glory for the second year in a row.
In a race over 5.91km, which had a 448-metre climb and then a 75-metre descent to the finish, Dugdale won by 5.6 seconds in 28:48 from Italy’s Alain Cavagna in 28:54 and Turkey’s Ramazan Yorulmaz in 28:57.
On a memorable day for Britain, Matthew Mackay was fourth in 29:30 and Euan Brennan was fifth in 29:38.0 to secure the team gold with just 10 points from Turkey (20) and Italy (29).
Czech Republic’s Barbora Havlickova, who knows all about tackling tough mountain ranges in the snow, showed her brilliance on the clear tracks of Zermatt by winning the women’s U20 race by over 50 seconds from the defending champion.
The 19-year-old, who competed for her country in the 15km skiathlon at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, triumphed in 32:20 to beat 2018 champion Angela Mattevi from Italy by a sizeable margin in 33:11 with Turkey’s Ruken Tek third in 34:42.
But there was still a top of the podium spot for Mattevi as Italy retained their team title with 20 points from Turkey (30) and Romania (33).here.