Jakob Ingebrigtsen: Olympic champion dominates European Cross Country in Dublin

By John HaugheyBBC Sport NI in Dublin
Jakob Ingebrigtsen took control of the race on the final lap as France's Jimmy Gressier secured bronze
Norway's Olympic 1500m champion had previously won four under-20 titles at the European Cross Country Championships

Olympic 1500m champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen eased to his first European Cross Country senior title in Dublin as his Norwegian compatriot Karoline Grovdal won the women's race.

Ingebrigtsen won by 14 seconds from Turkey's defending champion Aras Kaya.

Great Britain topped the medals table with five golds.

Britain's haul included a mixed relay triumph, Megan Keith's under-20 women's success and Charlie Hicks' impressive men's under-23 victory.

With the senior women and men's under-20s also securing team titles, the British tally matched their figure at the last championships in Lisbon when they also topped the medals table.

But Ingebrigtsen was the athlete the big Dublin crowd had come to see and he duly delivered by outclassing his opponents to add a first senior title to his four previous successive triumphs in the under-20 event.

Early on, the Norwegian found himself 20 metres off pace as we wondered if the Irish muck was not going to be his liking but by the start of the penultimate lap he was in a leading group of four with 2019 champion Kaya, France's Jimmy Gressier and Italy's Yemaneberhan Crippa.

A stitch forced Crippa to retire as Kaya continued to force the pace before the Olympic 1500m champion put the race to bed with a stunning burst at the start of the final lap as he suddenly was 50 metres clear of the Turk with three-time under-23 winner Gressier holding on for bronze.

'Was it an easy win? Yes'

Asked whether the race had been as easy as it appeared, Ingebrigtsen did have the modesty to hesitate before eventually concurring.

"Yes, though it's a 10km and outside the track is always a tough race. At the same time, I felt good and I've been training really well the last couple of months. I know I'm in good shape," said the 21-year-old, who described his final lap as "just increasing the pace slightly".

"I realised when we were four guys in the front, I was working hard, and at the same time, I realised that the others around me were breathing at least as hard as me and even more.

"That's a really motivating feeling at that point."

Ingebrigtsen, who needed some medical repairs following the race after being spiked early on, added that his decision to compete in Dublin had been a relatively late call.

"I enjoy racing and I enjoy competing for medals. At the same time, cross country is really tough and I don't like to be in pain.

"I had to make up my mind all the way up to the championships but I'm happy that I came here," added the Olympic champion, whose win also helped Norway clinch team bronze as Gressier's third place set up France's gold ahead of Spain.

Jessica Judd in action in Dublin on Sunday
Jessica Judd's fourth place helped Great Britain secure women's senior team gold

Grovdal wins women's title as GB take team gold

After winning individual silver and bronze medals at the five previous championships, Grovdal made it a Norwegian senior double as she finished 10 seconds clear of Sweden's Meraf Bahta, with Germany's Alina Reh taking bronze.

Jessica Judd's fourth place helped Great Britain win the senior women's team title as Jennifer Nesbitt and Jessica Gibbon were the other scorers in 10th and 11th place.

Olympic women's 800m finalist Alex Bell's sensational penultimate leg was pivotal to Great Britain's mixed relay win as the Irish hosts were run out of the medals in fourth after having a big lead at halfway.

The victorious British quartet also included Hannah Nuttall, Luke Duffy and Ben West, whose final leg built on Bell's remarkable 1500m lap as she brought the British from sixth spot to leading at the final handover.

Ireland's sole gold medal came in the men's under-23 team event as Darragh McElhinney took individual silver behind impressive Great Britain winner Hicks.

The hosts also secured team silver in the men's under-20 event as Great Britain clinched the gold by a single point thanks to ninth, 10th and 15th places from Will Barnicoat, Hamish Armitt and Henry McLuckie.

European Under-20 3,000m champion Nick Griggs was a big Irish medal hope in the under-20 race but a stitch on the second lap put paid to his hopes as he had to settle for 16th.

Abdel Laadjel was the leading Irish under-20 men's finisher in sixth - 37 seconds behind dominant Danish winner Axel Christensen.

Megan Keith's individual success for Britain in the women's under-20 race also helped secure team bronze as she finished three seconds clear of Norway's Ingeborg Ostgard.

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