After winning no fewer than six cross country titles at U23 level, France’s Jimmy Gressier is in form to open his senior medal haul at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Fingal-Dublin on 12 December.
One week after winning the French short course title, Gressier stepped up in distance to win over 9km at the Cross du Maine Libre in Allonnes on Sunday (21), becoming the first home winner of the senior men’s race in 2007.
Gressier crossed the line in 26:54 and won by a handsome margin of 16 seconds over Kenya’s Jacob Kosgei (27:10) and Ethiopia’s Adeledelew Mamo (27:20). His winning margin would have been even greater if the charismatic and popular Frenchman didn’t treat the crowds to one of his trademark flamboyant celebrations.
Now 24, Gressier will be stepping up to the senior ranks in Fingal-Dublin next month having won gold medals at five successive editions of the SPAR European Cross Country Championships. Not only did Gressier win individual and team titles in the U23 race in 2017, 2018 and 2019 he was also part of France’s gold medal-winning team in the U20 race in 2015 and 2016.
Gressier’s long-time age-group rival Yemaneberhan Crippa is also targeting Fingal-Dublin and his older brother Nekagenet Crippa staked his place on the Italian team by winning the senior men’s 10km at the Carsolina Cross on Sunday (21) just outside Trieste in 28:45 from Kenyans Rodgers Maiyo (28:52) and Edwin Kibet (28:57).
In the women’s senior 7km, former European U20 champion Klara Lukan, who also represented Slovenia at the Tokyo Olympics over 5000m this summer, was a runaway winner. She won in 22:04 and won by 49 seconds from Italy’s Martina Merlo in 22:53.
At 21, Lukan is eligible for the U23 race at both the 2021 and 2022 European Cross Country Championships. After a comfortable win in Carsolina yesterday, Lukan is likely to face a sterner test in the U23 race next month from Olympic 5000m finalist Nadia Battocletti, the 2018 and 2019 European U20 cross country champion.
At the Cross de Italica in Seville on Sunday (21), multiple European U20 and U23 medallist Carlos Mayo from Spain was the leading European finisher in the senior men’s 10.1km. He finished sixth in 29:08 in a race won by the Spanish-based Burundian Rodrigue Kwizera in 28:33.
Reigning four-time European cross country champion Yasemin Can from Turkey had to settle for 11th in the senior women’s race in 25:54. Kenyan steeplechaser Norah Jeruto took the victory in 24:21 from teammates Margaret Chelimo (24:22) and Beatrice Chebet (24:34).