It is a big week for indoor athletics, but it was also a big weekend for national cross country championships – and one that saw Portugal’s Ana Dulce Felix once more demonstrate her amazing versatility.
The European 10,000m champion from Helsinki in 2012 remains one of Europe’s most consistent athletes on the tough terrains of grass and in Pombal, she became national champion for the fifth time.
A bronze medallist at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Belgrade in December, Felix triumphed on Sunday in 32:02 over 8km as she beat Salome Roche by six seconds with Catarina Ribeiro in third in 33:03.
Manuel Damiao won the men’s race for a third time, taking the title in 42:29 from Rui Pinto – who was the quickest under-23 – in 42:59 with Alberto Paulo third in 43:27.
In Marina D’Oropesa, Ayad Lamdassem, Spain’s 2010 SPAR European Cross Country silver-medallist, beat the man who was crowned champion in Belgrade two months ago, Alemayehu Bezabeh.
As the men of Bikila Atletismo and women of Atletismu Santutxu won Spanish Club Cross Country crowns, Lamdassem was first over the 11.25km course in 24:01, with Eritrea’s Kidane Tadese – a guest runner – second in 24:04 from Antonio Jimenez in 24:06 and Alemayehu Bezabeh next in 24:10.
As Fabienne Schlumpf won over 8km at the Swiss Cross Country Championships in Zurich in 28:35, many eyes were also on the woman who finished second in 29:08 – that being Nicola Spirig, the Olympic gold medallist from London 2012 in the triathlon.
It will be interesting to see whether Spirig now looks to make the team for the distance races at the European Athletics Championships in the city in August.
Silverstone in Great Britain is world-renowned as a motor racing track but there on Sunday Chris Thompson, the 10,000m silver from the 2010 European Athletics Championships in Barcelona, warmed up for his marathon debut in style.
Thompson runs over 26.2 miles in London on April 13 and at the Silverstone half-Marathon, he won easily in 1:05:08 to smash the course record Matt Smith had set in 2005 by 15 seconds.
Bad Oeyhausen, in Germany, was the venue for a special pole vault competition which saw European Indoor champion Holly Bleasdale, of Great Britain, finish third with 4.48m as Brazil’s Fabiana Murer - the 2010 World indoor champion and 2011 World outdoor champion – won on countback with 4.63m ahead of Switzerland’s Nicole Buchler whose performance at that height was a national record.
Poland’s Piotr Lisek won the men’s event with a personal best of 5.77m, even though he will not be representing his country at this week’s IAAF World Indoor Championships in Sopot because he no-heighted at the national championships and did not make the team.
Staying with the pole vault, in Madrid, Spain’s Igor Bychkov, who was 12th in the Olympic final in London, celebrated a personal best as he went over at 5.60m.
Frenchman Christophe Lemaitre had a mixed day at the Metz Moselle Athleror Indoor meeting.
He was back in fourth in the 60m in 6.67 as St Kitts & Nevis' Kim Collins triumphed in 6.51, but then Lemaitre was all the rage in the 200m as he won in 20.58 – setting a national indoor record.
It was a good meeting for Poland´s Marcin Lewandowski who broke the national 1000m record, winning in 2:17.67 from Morocco’s Nader Belhandel, second in 2:19.24, and Florian Carvalho, of France, third 2:19.95.
And in Split, Croatia’s Sandra Perkovic, the Olympic and World discus gold medallist, broke the national record with 70.51m, the best throw in the world since Spain’s Maritza Marten’s 70.68m in 1992.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Friday-Sunday – IAAF World Indoor Championships (Sopot).
Saturday – Baltic Match (Siauliai), Winter Throwing Cup Montenegro (Bar).Sunday – Cross Country XC Challenge (Skopje).