The European Cross Country Championships took place in Lisbon, Portugal on Sunday, with Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen taking home gold in the 6.2K U20 race for the fourth straight year, and by a 38-second margin. Ayetullah Aslanhan of Turkey was second. But most astonishing was Eritrean-born Efrem Gidey, racing for Ireland for the first time, bringing home the bronze medal and contributing to his team’s fourth-place finish.
(Scroll to 15:32 for the start of the men’s U20 race in the video.)
According to a report by the Irish news outlet RTÉ Sport, Gidey’s participation wasn’t assured until the last minute, due to visa issues. The athlete had spent six months in a refugee camp in Calais with his family before landing in Dublin in March, 2017. He runs with the Clonliffe Harriers, where he didn’t excel right away (small wonder, considering what he had been through, and that he arrived speaking no English), but soon found his niche. Earlier this year Gidey set a national record for Ireland of 14:34.22 in the senior boys’ 5,000m.
It was a big day for Efrem Gidey who won individual bronze in the U20 men's race on his debut for Ireland 🇮🇪 at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships. 👏 pic.twitter.com/ke6wT6xS6q
— European Athletics (@EuroAthletics) December 8, 2019
In the 10.2K senior men’s race, another Eritrean-born athlete, Robel Fsiha of Sweden, took gold. Aras Kaya of Turkey was second, and Yemaneberhan Crippa of Italy was third. (Julien Wanders, pacer to Eliud Kipchoge at INEOS 1:59, finished just off the podium in fourth place. Filip Ingebrigtsen, last year’s champion, finished 12th. All three Ingebrigtsen brothers also ran as pacers for Kipchoge.)
In the 8.3K senior women’s race, Turkey’s Yasemin Can won gold for the fourth consecutive year. Karoline Bjerkeli Grøvdal of Norway took silver and Samrawit Mengsteab of Sweden won bronze.
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U23 EUROPEAN XC CHAMP 2019🥇 Defending my title from last year was without a doubt the best way to finish off my last U23 year!😃🏃🏼♀️🇩🇰 Ready to move on to the senior class next year🤗👊🏼 Not to be forgotten, thanks to organizers for making a proper xc course this year!⛰🙌🏼💪🏼 📸: DECA Text&Bild
In the 4.3K U20 women’s race, Nadia Battocletti of Italy won gold, Klara Lukan of Slovakia took silver and Mariana Machado of Portugal won bronze.
In the 8.3K U23 men’s race, Jimmy Gressier of France won gold, Elzan Bibic of Serbia took silver, and Abdessamad Oukhelfen of Spain took bronze. In the 6.3K U23 women’s race, Anna Emilie Møller of Denmark won gold, Jasmijn Lau of the Netherlands won silver and Stephanie Cotter of Ireland took bronze.
The course, which had a short (500m) loop and a longer 1,500m loop, featured some tight turns and some hills, but although conditions were overcast, it did not appear particularly muddy.
— European Athletics (@EuroAthletics) December 9, 2019
For full results, click here.