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    SPAR European Cross Country Championships highlights

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    After benign conditions in Chia twelve months ago, sub-zero temperatures and a biting wind greeted the athletes in Samorin at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships. A record number of nations and athletes took part in the 24th edition of the annual championships at the x-bionic sphere which saw a superb day of racing.

    In the first race of the day, Great Britain’s Harriet Knowles-Jones improved on her silver and bronze medals from 2015 and 2016 with a dominant display in the U20 race, defeating Hungary’s Lili Anna Toth and Germany’s Miriam Dattke.

    There was only likely to be one winner in the men’s U20 race with reigning champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen from Norway lining up. Ingebrigtsen left it late but relied on his sprint finish to defeat Turkey’s Ramazan Barbaros to retain his title.

    After the race, Ingebrigtsen told us his training is going 'really well this year' and he is 'a better runner' than he was twelve months ago when he won the title in Chia.

    In the women’s U23 race, German teammates Alina Reh and Konstanze Klosterhalfen were inseparable until the last 70 metres when Reh powered away from her teammate who was looking to claim her third successive individual title at the European Cross Country Championships.

    After a string of excellent performances on the roads and at cross country, Reh is now turning her focus to the Berlin 2018 European Championships in August where she will be competing on the track.

    The men’s U23 race was expected to be a head-to-head between European U23 track champions Yemaneberhan Crippa from Italy and Carlos Mayo from Spain. They had to settle for third and fifth respectively as the French took a surprise one-two through Jimmy Gressier and Hugo Hay.

    With their third scoring counter finishing in fourth, France easily won the team title and their teammates joined in with the celebrations!

    Turkey’s Yasemin Can romped to the senior women’s title, becoming just the second athlete in championships history to retain her title. Sweden's Meraf Bahta used her 1500m pace to outsprint Norway's Karoline Bjerkeli Grovdal for silver.

    In the men’s senior race, Turkey’s Kaan Kigen Ozbilen came through gradually over the second half of the race to defeat Spain’s European indoor 3000m champion Adel Mechaal and Great Britain’s Andrew Butchart.

    Reigning champion Aras Kaya's chances of retaining his individual title were scuppered by a mid-race fall but he did help Turkey to the team title.

    In the inaugural mixed relay, Cameron Boyek put the British team into a commanding lead on the second leg before Sarah McDonald and Tom Marshall safely maintained that lead to claim Britain's fifth gold medal of the day.

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