Ireland Hopes To Dominate European Cross Country Championships
The 2017 European Cross Country Championships commences on the weekend in Slovakia. As per usual, the race will consist of a total of six races, with various age divisions and different race stages for men and women. Individual and team medals will once again be awarded for each separate race.
Ireland will be represented by no less than 27 athletes in this year’s event and two-time European Cross Country champion Irish national Fionnnuala McCormack will be gunning for a third world title this year. 33 year old McCormack will lead the Irish senior women’s team. Her male counterpart, Paul Pollock, will do the same in the men’s division.
Ireland is traditionally strong at the championships but will be facing tough competition from Turkey this year. The competitor’s list for this year’s championships has officially been released and both Yasemin Can and Meryem Akdag (former Kenyan nationals) have been confirmed as set to compete this year.
The two women won gold and silver respectively at last year’s event in Sardinia, with McCormack having had to settle for 5th place.
Sturdy Competition From Kenya
The men’s division too, will be largely populated by athletes originally from Kenya. Four of the athletes in the Turkish senior men’s team originally hail from Kenya. This includes the defending champion Aras Kaya.
Yasemin Can will also be wanting to secure back to back European titles this year, a feat that has previously only been pulled off by McCormack. McCormack will this year move ahead of Sonia O’Sullivan, who currently holds the record for the most capped Irish athlete of all time. The event will be McCormack’s 15th appearance in the European Cross Country Championships and her 35th overall international appearance.
McCormack will be joined by Shona Heaslip, Kerry O’Flaherty, Michelle Finn, Lizzie Lee and Fionnuala Ross. McCormack has said that she is ready to reclaim the title that was won by her in 2011 and 2012; this year for the third time, and that last year’s event and 5tgh place finish had been a huge disappointment to her.
Athletes are selected based on their ability to compete with Europe’s best and McCormack certainly qualifies in that particular division.
If McCormack were to be successful in securing her third title, she will officially hold the record for the most titles held by a single individual for the event.
A record total of 576 athletes will be competing in the world class championships event this year, representing a total of 37 nations.
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