For the second time in six months, Fionnuala McCormack has found herself relegated out of the medals at a major European Cross Country Championships by recently-transferred Kenyan athletes representing Turkey, writes Will Downing.
European 5000m and 10000m double-winner from this summer’s Championships in Amsterdam, Yasemin Can, pounced again to take the European Cross-Country title ahead of team-mate and another Kenyan-born transfer, Meryem Akda.
Karoline Grovdal of Norway won a three-way sprint for the bronze medal ahead of Romania’s Ancuta Bobocel, with McCormack in fifth, two seconds outside the medals.
Ireland were sixth in the team category, having been fourth and seven points off the medals with a lap to go.
Earlier, Jack O’Leary kicked off Ireland’s bid for medals at the European Cross-Country Championships in the Sardinian resort of Chia with a creditable sixth-place in the junior men’s race.
O’Leary, whose father is the Gigginstown powerhouse horse racing trainer Eddie, was second at one stage behind home Italian athlete Yohanes Chiappinelli.
The Italian found himself overtaken by the latest member of the great Norwegian athletics family, Jakob Ingebrigtsen, who won by eight seconds, despite being the youngest in the field.
Britain’s Mahamed Mahamed was third.
Former schools mile champion O’Leary was battling among a second group of three athletes behind the top trio, but was run out of it by Frenchmen Jimmy Gressier and Mohamed-Amine El Bouajaji.
O’Leary’s time of 17 minutes 21 seconds was only 15 seconds behind winner Ingebrigtsen, with Ireland taking sixth in the team category.