• European Cross Country Championships 2022 Men's Preview

Posted by: Watch Athletics

The Mandria Park in Venaria Reale near Turin is the venue for the 2022 European Cross Country Championships. Italy will stage the European Cross Country Championships for the fourth time in history after the four editions in Ferrara in 1998, San Giorgio su Legnano in 2006 and Chia in 2016. No less than 622 athletes from 40 countries are expected to take part in the continental championships. 

Mandria Park in the northwestern part of Turin is the largest enclosed park in Europe. It lies in the shadow of the Mandria Castle, a UNESCO Heritage Site. The course includes a 50-meters indoor section, which goes through the carriage pavilion of one of the castle's outbuildings before the runners emerge back outdoors onto a challenging course.

The course also includes a 300 meter uphill and downhill section.

Turin had already hosted a major cross-country event in 1997 when the World Championships were staged in the city's Parco del Valentino. 

All six individual champions from the 2021 European Cross Country Championships (Jakob Ingebrigtsen, Karoline Grovdal, Yasemin Can, Nadia Battocletti, Megan Keith, Charles Hicks, Axel Van Christensen) will take part in this year's edition. Four gold medallists from the 2022 European Championships in Munich (Jakob Ingebrigtsen, Yasemin Can, Konstanze Klosterhalfen, and Topi Raitanen) will be competing at Mandria Park. 

The oldest competitor registered is 48-year-old Maurice Turnock from Gibraltar in the senior men's race. The youngest competitor is 16-year-old Alexandra Maria Hudea from Romania in the women's under-20 race. 

Men's senior race: 

Jakob Ingebrigtsen will defend the senior title at the European Cross Country Championships he won in Fingal – Dublin last year. 

Ingebrigtsen will target the sixth consecutive individual gold medal of his career at the European Cross Country Championships. 

Norway has won eleven gold medals in the history of the European Cross Country Championships since the first edition in 1994. Ingebrigtsen is still unbeaten in his five appearances at the European Cross Country Championships. The 21-year-old Norwegian star won the first of his four European Under 20 titles in Chia in Sardinia in 2016. He stepped up to win his first senior gold medal in Dublin in 2021. He also led the Norwegian team to the men's under 20 title in 2018 and the team silver medal in 2019.  

Ingebrigtsen will be joined in the Norwegian senior team by his brothers Henrik and Filip. Henrik won the Under 23 title in 2012, while Filip claimed the senior title in 2018. 

Ingebrigtsen won the silver medal in the 1500 meters and the gold medal in the 5000 meters at the World Championships in Eugene last July and two European gold medals in the 1500 meters and the 5000 meters in Munich last August, repeating the same double he had already achieved four years earlier in Berlin 2018 when he was 17 years old.   

Ingebrigtsen will renew his rivalry against Spain's Mohamed Katir, who won the world bronze medal in the 1500 meters in Eugene and the European Championships silver medal in the 5000 meters in Munich. Both times he finished behind Ingebrigtsen. Katir set Spanish records in the 1500m with 3:28.76, in the 3000m with 7:27.64, and 12:50.79 in the 5000m. He recently finished sixth at the Cross Italica in Seville last November. 

The Spanish team features 40 athletes, including Nassim Hassaous, former 10000 meters European Under 23 champion Carlos Mayo and Abdessamad Oukhelfen, who finished seventh, eleventh, and twelfth, respectively, at last year's edition of the European Cross Country Championships in Dublin, contributing to team silver medal behind France. 

Spain is the third most successful nation at the European Cross Country Championships, with 21 gold medals behind Great Britain (70) and France (32) and 77 medals in total. 

The entire podium of the 5000 meters at the European Championships in Munich will be completed by Yeman Crippa from Italy, who finished third in that race behind Ingebrigtsen and Katir. Crippa went on to win the European gold medal in the 10000 meters a few days later. In his previous appearances at the European Cross Country Championships, the Italian star collected five medals, including two under-20 gold medals in 2014 and 2015, two under-23 bronze medals, and the senior silver medal in 2019. Crippa, who won a total of 10 medals, including team medals, is the joint second-highest individual medal winner in the men's race in the history of these championships. 

Crippa holds the Italian records in the 3000m (7:37.90), the 5000m (13:02.26), in the 10000m (27:10.76), and the half marathon (59:26). 

Crippa trained at high altitude in Kenya ahead of the European Championships in Turin and his marathon debut next spring. 

Yeman Crippa: "It's a nice thing to be racing at home in Turin. We will have many people to cheer us on. I want to give all the Italian fans the gold medal, like in Munich. I am not running to finish second. Jakob Ingebrigtsen is a unique and powerful athlete, as everyone knows, but I think he can be beaten, and in cross country, it's easier to try. I will try to entertain all the fans who come to follow us on Sunday. I talked to athletes who have already tested the course. It's going to be very challenging. After the European Championships, I am planning to run the Boclassic in Bolzano on December 31 December and the Campaccio Cross Country race on January 6 January before focusing my preparation for my marathon debut next spring. I am ready for this new experience". 

Crippa will be joined in the Italian team by his brother Nekagenet Crippa, Osama Zoghlami, who won the European bronze medal in the 3000m steeplechase in Munich 2022 and trained with Crippa in Kenya in the build-up to the European Cross Country Championships, Yohanes Chiappinelli, who won the European bronze medal in the 3000 meters steeplechase in Berlin 2018 and finished second to Ingebrigtsen in the under 20 race in Chia 2016. Italy won only once the team title when the European Championships were held on home soil for the first time in Ferrara in 1998. 

Aras Kaya from Turkey will aim to reach the podium for the fourth time in his career after winning the silver medal in Dublin in 2021 and two gold medals in Chia in 2016 and Lisbon in 2019. This year the Kenyan-born Turkish athlete finished third in the European 10000m Cup last May but finished 16th in the 10000m at the European Championships in Munich last August.  

No one has clinched the men's senior title in consecutive years since Ukrainian legend Sergiy Lebid in 2007-2008. Lebid also won five straight gold medals from 2001 to 2005 and two more titles in 1998 and 2010. The only other athlete who managed to defend the title was Portugal's Paulo Guerra, who won the opening two editions in Alnwick in 1994 and 1995 and won again in 1999 and 2000. 

Reigning European 10000m bronze medallist Yann Schrub and 2018 European 10000m Morhad Amdouni lead the French team. Amdouni will make his eighth appearance at the European Cross Country Championships. He has achieved three top-ten places and won the team under 20 gold medal in 2007. 

The Belgian team will feature Isaac Kimeli from Belgium, European Cross Country silver medallist in Tilburg 2018, and Michael Somers, who finished fifth in Dublin last year. 

The German senior men's team is led by this year's German cross country champion and former European under 23 cross country silver medallist Samuel Fitwi and Sam Parsons, who finished sixth in the 5000m at the European Championships in Munich. 

The other top contenders are Mike Foppen, who set the Dutch record in the 5000 meters with 13:13.06 in Monaco in 2020, Elzan Bibic from Serbia, who won the under 20 bronze medal behind Ingebrigtsen in Tilburg 2018 and will make his debut in the senior race on Sunday, Emile Caress, who equalled Mo Farah's British 10 km record and won the British Cross Country Trials in Liverpool ahead of triathlon specialist Hugo Millner, Ireland's Brian Fay, who set a national indoor record of 13:16.77 this year, and Andreas Vojta, who will make the 13th appearance of his career at these championships becoming the third on the all-time list behind Sergiy Lebid (19) and Gabriele De Nard (17). 

World indoor 3000m bronze medallist, Marc Scott from Great Britain, withdrew from the European Cross Country Championships due to a minor injury problem.

Mixed relay: 

Great Britain has won three of the four titles in the mixed relay since this discipline was added to the program of the European Championships in Samorin in 2017. The British team finished out of the medals only once in Tilburg, when they placed fourth. 

In last year's edition, Great Britain won the gold medal. Olympic 800 meters finalist Alexandra Bell started the third leg 12 seconds behind the lead and handed over to British anchor runner Ben West four seconds ahead of the nearest rivals. 

This year the British team is formed by Callum Elson, British Trials winner James Heneghan, Reeve Walcott-Nolan, winner in the women's race at the British Trials, and former European Under 20 800 meters champion Khaisa Mihanga. 

Italy is aiming to win a medal in front of home fans. The Italian quartet features Pietro Arese, who finished fourth in the 1500m at the European Championships in Munich and eighth at the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade, Gaia Sabbatini, who won the European Under 23 title in the 1500m and improved her PB to 4:01.93 at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Yassin Bouih, European indoor finalist in Belgrade 2017 in the 1500m and Federica Del Buono, who finished fifth at the European Championships in the 1500m in Zurich 2014 and won the European Indoor Championships over this distance in Prague 2015. Bouih and Del Buono finished second in the 2 km test event races in Venaria Reale on November 20 November. 

France is looking to reach the podium for the second consecutive edition after finishing second in 2021. The French team features European finalist Azeddine Habz, who set a PB in the 1500m of 3:31.74 in Monaco in 2021 and ran the second leg of France's silver medal-winning team. 

Spain features Solange Pereira, who anchored his team to a gold medal in the relay in Tilburg 2018, Olympic 800 meters fifth placer Adrian Ben and two-time European indoor 1500 metres bronze medallist Jesus Gomez. 

Belgium features European under 23 1500 meters champions Ruben Verheyden, Vanessa Scaunet, and Stijin Baeten. 

The Irish team will be looking to reach their first podium in this discipline. Olympic 1500 meters semifinalist Andrew Coscoran will team up with Luke McCann and Nadia Power, who finished third in the 2 km team race at the Mandria Park last November, and Irish indoor 1500m champion Georgie Hartigan. 

Finland will make its debut in the mixed relay at these championships. The Finnish quarter will feature reigning European 3000 metres steeplechase champion Topi Raitanen, 3000m steeplechase specialist Camilla Richardson, who also runs in the women's 8 km, and middle distance specialists Joonas Rinne and Viola Westling. 

Portugal features Salome Afonso, who won the women's 2 km test event in Venaria Reale, European under 23 1500m bronze medallist Isaac Nader. 

Former Olympic 400m hurdles semifinalist Stina Troest is the top name in the Danish team. 

The Croatian team features Bojana Bjeljac, who set the national record of 2:23:39 at the Valencia Marathon last week. 

The German team features 3000 metres specialist Elena Burkard and Christoph Kessler. 

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