December 13, 2012
At LetsRun, we pride ourselves on promoting the sport’s stars as individuals and not just as a group. Normally our efforts in this area are devote to runners from Ethiopia and Kenya as we want you to be able to follow them as individuals and not just as “the Africans.”
In that light, we realized many of you may have no idea who the individuals are who won last weekend’s European Cross-Country championships. Thus we give you a little bit of background info on the six champions that were crowned in Poland.
Jr. Champ – Szymon Kulka Of Poland
The 19-year-old has run 3:48, 14:15 and 29:48. European Jr. 10,000 bronze medallist last year.
U-23 Champ – Henrik Ingebrigtsen Of Norway – aka the “Viking version of Centro”
Of all the European cross winners, Ingebrigtsen is the most accomplished pro at the world level. The European U-23 title was the perfect way for him to cap off an unreal 2012 campaign.
The 21-year-old came into the year credentialed as the Norwegian junior record holder at 3:38.63. Success as a junior doesn’t always translate to success as a senior, but it certainly did for Ingebrigtsen. In April, he set a new PR of 3:36.39 at Stanford. At the Olympics, he arrived as a potential future star by PRing with a 3:35.43 national record in the final, where he placed fifth. It doesn’t get better than that really – a big PR in the Olympic final at the age of 21.
From now on, we propose that we refer to him the “Viking version of Centro” as “flag waver” referred to him on the message board this summer after his stunning Olympic run in honor of America’s young 1,500 hope Matt Centrowitz.
Senior Men’s Champ – Andrea Lalli Of Italy
The 28-year-old Italian has PRs of 3:43 for 1,500, 28:17, and 61:11 for the half marathon, and will make his marathon debut in 2013. He has been living in Kenya and training with Gianni Di Madonna‘s group for two years. He loves Kenya and not just because of the altitude, as shown by this quote, which we loved:
“Kenya is now my second home. I have got everything I need there: good training companions, ideal conditions at 2,400m altitude and a lot of friends. It is not all about athletics … Human relationships count for more with me than what other might call modern conveniences. I would much rather spend an evening talking with a couple of friends than watching television.”
Jr Champ – Amela Terzic Of Serbia
The 19-year-old is a real talent and a name you might want to remember. In 2009, she won World Youth bronze at 1,500. In 2011, she won double European junior gold at 1,500 and 3,000.
This summer, she won she really arrived by running a PR in the final of world juniors to nab silver. A 4:07.59 PR at age 19, which also is the Serbian junior and senior record, is pretty impressive. In that 4:07.59, she smoked US junior sensation Mary Cain, who was sixth in a new US high school record of 4:11.01, by 3.5 seconds – although it needs to be remembered that Cain is three years younger.
If one was going to knock Terzic, it probably would be in the fact that she has run 2:05 in the 800 each of the last four years. Will she ultimately be a 5,000 woman?
U23 Champ – Jess Coulson Of Britain
The 22-year-old, who has track PRs of 4:18, 9:14 and 16:23, had a nice fall on the roads this year, earning PRs of 33:12 for 10k and 53:43 for 10 miles. She was the English champ at 5,000 earlier this year, as well as the University runner-up at 10,000.
Senior Women’s Champ – Fionnuala Britton Of Ireland
Britton became the first woman to defend her European XC title by winning again this year. With PRs of 15:12 and 31:29 and being from Ireland, the 28-year-old is due for a lucrative payday when she makes her marathon debut – an event where her coach thinks she’ll be a star.
The Irish record won’t be easy for her to get. Catherina McKiernan, a 14:49/31:08 performer, ran 2:22:23 back in 1998 in Amsterdam. #2 on the Irish list is much easier to get – Carey May‘s 2:28:07.
More: *Coach: Britton will be a marathon star