European Cross Country Championships 2022 men's under 20 and 23 races' preview.
Men's Under 20 race:
Axel Vang Christensen from Denmark won the under-20 title at last year's edition at the age of 17 with a gap of 25 seconds over Abullahi Dahir Rabi from Norway.
Christensen set the European Under 20 record in the 3000 metres steeplechase with 8:29.18 in Bergen. The Danish athlete has moved to Great Britain, where he started a sports scholarship at the University of Birmingham. He is eligible for the under-20 race at the next edition of the European Cross Country Championships in Brussels in 2023. He competed at the British Cross Country Championships as a guest and finished seventh after a fall in the mid of the race.
Christensen will renew his rivalry against Dahir Rabi and his compatriot Joel Ibler Lileso, who won the bronze medal in Dublin last year.
Lileso also won the European Under 20 gold medal in the 5000 metres in Tallin in 2021.
Rabi broke the European Under 20 record in the 5000 metres clocking 28:11.71 in the 10000 metres in Oslo.
Lilleso improved Jakob Ingebrigtsen's European indoor 3000 metres record, clocking 7:48.34 in Sollentuna.
Rabi won the Warandecross 6.2 km race in Tilburg, beating Lilleso and Niels Laros last November.
Laros, who won two European Under 18 gold medals in the 1500m and 3000m in Jerusalem last July, has been forced to pull out of these championships with illness.
The Norwegian team will be strengthened by Andreas Fjeld Halvorsen, who won the European under 20 silver medals in both the 1500m and 3000m behind Laros in Jerusalem.
Great Britain beat Ireland by just one point in the under-20 team competition. Will Barnicoat and Edward Bird will lead the British team. Barnicoat, who finished ninth in the under-20 race in Dublin last year, leading the British team to gold, won the British Trials in Liverpool last month.
The Irish team will be represented by Dean Casey and reigning European Under 20 3000m gold medallist Nick Griggs, who contributed to the European under 20 team silver medal in Dublin.
Men's Under 23 race:
Charles Hicks from Great Britain won the individual European under 23 gold medal in Dublin and will be looking for his second individual title in this category.
Hicks won the NCAA title in Stillwater a few weeks ago, becoming the fourth British athlete in history to win the collegiate championships, following Nick Rose (1974), Mark Scruton (1982), and John Nuttal (1989). Hicks, who studies cognitive science at Stanford University in the USA, broke David Bedford's 51-year-old British under-23 record in the 10000 meters with 27:40.16 at the Payton Jordan Invitational in Stanford. Hicks was born in London and moved to Florida with his parents at the age of 12. He is aiming to become the second athlete in history to successfully defend the under-23 title after Frenchman Jimmy Gressier, who won three gold medals in 2017, 2018, and 2019.
Hicks will renew his rivalry against Darragh McEhinney from Ireland and Ruben Querinjean from Luxemburg, who won the silver and bronze medals behind Hicks in the Under 23 race in Dublin last year. The Irish team also features Efrem Gidey, an Eritrean refugee who won the European Under 20 bronze medal behind Jakob Ingebrigtsen in Lisbon 2019 and finished sixth in the 10000 metres at the European Championships in Munich.
Querinjean won the first medal for his country in the history of these championships.
Apart from Hicks, McEhinney and Querinjean the line-up includes five more athletes from the top nine of last year's edition of the under-23 race in Dublin: Magnus Tuv Myhre from Norway (fourth), Keelan Kilrehill from Ireland (sixth), Antoine Senard from France (seventh), Aaron Las Heras from Spain (eighth) and Valentin Goudouin (ninth).
Reigning European under 20 3000 metres steeplechase champion Pol Orlach will step up to the under 23 race after finishing fourth in the under 20 race last year.
The under 23 race line-up is completed by European under 23 3000m steeplechase silver medallist Etson Barros from Portugal.