Italy’s Daniele Meucci and Turkey’s Esma Aydemir, in front of her home crowd, won the individual titles at the 20th European 10,000m Cup in Mersin on Sunday evening.
And with these triumphs, the pair can confidently count down to the European Athletics Championships in Amsterdam knowing all looks good with their preparations.
It was a double night of success for Meucci as Italy’s men also won the team prize with Great Britain first in the women’s event.
Daniele Meucci, 30, is among the most versatile athletes on the European circuit. His roll-call of honours is topped by his glory in Zurich two years ago when he won the European marathon crown to go with his 10,000m silver (2012) and bronze (2012) from Helsinki and in Amsterdam - which starts exactly a month today - he will be hoping to create his own piece of history.
He will be competing in the first half-marathon at the championships and if that race needs the perfect balance between speed and endurance, he showed he has it in abundance at the Nevin Yanit Athletics Complex as he won this 10,000m Cup by more than four seconds.
Meucci triumphed in 28:24.71 from Spain’s Juan Perez (28:28.93) and fellow Italian Jamel Chatbi (28:32.85).
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He was always one of the pre-race favourites and even if Turkey's Polat Kemboi Arikan, the defending champion, had not been an absentee, he would have been given a run for his money by the multi-talented Meucci, who is also a SPAR European Cross Country bronze medallist (2012).
This second big European title was achieved at the perfect time. The longer distance awaits in Amsterdam but with a season’s best of 10,000m, here was proof of his sharpness and race fitness.
It was a good evening for Italy with Stefano La Rosa in fifth (28:42.25) while Spain’s men showed they are in good shape for the championships, as they took silver in the team event, with Alemayehu Bezabeh (29:13.77) in seventh and Jose Espana in eighth (29:17.53) with Ukraine winning team bronze, led by Dmytro Lashyn in fourth in a personal best (28:37.11).
In the build-up to the race, Turkey had the favourite with European under-23 record-holder Yasmin Can but like Spain’s defending champion Trihas Gebre, she was a late scratch from the start list.
Yet the host nation still had gold to celebrate as Esma Aydemir produced a brilliant final lap to win in a personal best of 33:33.38, a victory by nearly 11 seconds from Italy’s Rosaria Console (33:44.11) and Great Britain’s Jenny Nesbitt (33:45.46).
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This victory was a powerful performance from Aydemir, who is no stranger to European success. Now 24, she was one of the stars of the European Athletics Junior Championships in Tallinn 2011 when she won 5000m gold and 3000m silver.
Prior to the race, she had the slowest personal best of her teammates (34:33.86) but she broke it by more than a minute as the Turkish team also took silver.
An improvement of that proportion again in Amsterdam will make her a real challenger if the race is based on times; if it is based on tactics, she could be up there anyway, as she showed with this last 400m speed on Sunday.
Britain secured team gold as Nesbitt was ably supported by Lauren Deadman (34:10.79) in ninth and Louise Small (34:49.69) in 12th ahead of Turkey, with Sevilay Eytemis (33:54.38) in fourth, as Spain, who had Sonia Bejarano (34:04.47) in sixth, won team bronze.