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Balkan Cross Champs 2012

Acunta Bobocel 2012

Acunta Bobocel 2012

Local runners dominated the 57th Balkan Cross Country Championships, staged in the Turkish seaside town of Kocaeli on Saturday, winning three of the six individual titles and four team titles.

Four of the remaining five gold medals were hung around the necks of Romanian runners.

Turkey’s Bekir Karayel won the senior men’s 10km in 28:59, finishing more than a minute in front of his team-mate Ali Haydar, who crossed the line in 29:50.

The hosts made it a clean sweep of the medals as Fatih Bilgiç, second 12 months ago in the Serbian town of Kragujevac, finished third this time. With three to score, Turkey also took the team title with a perfect tally.

Romania’s former SPAR European Cross Country Championships junior and U23 winner Ancuta Bobocel took the senior women’s honours over 8km when she won in 26:47, finishing 10 seconds ahead of Turkey’s Turian Ortata.

Bobocel led her country to the team gold medals as well.

There was a similar story in the men’s under 23 8km race with the Romanian winner Adrian Trifan, who crossed the line in 24:17, having a Turkish rival Ramazan Özdemir as his nearest challenger. However, on this occasion, the hosts triumphed in the team competition.

Turkey’s 2011 European Athletics Junior Championships 5000m winner Esma Aydemir showed her true form at cross country after her disappointing showing at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships last December when she was 23rd in the junior race after starting as a potential medal contender.

She won the under 23 women’s 6km race in Kocaeli in 20:09. Despite having just turned 20 at the start of the year, her performance advertised the fact that she might be a force to be reckoned with in this category at the 2012 SPAR European Cross Country Championships, which will be held in Szentendre, just outside the Hungarian capital Budapest, on 9 December.

Özlem Kaya, third last year, moved up one place this time around to make it a Turkish one-two in this race and she helped Turkey to also take this team title.

Turkey’s Sebahattin Yildirimci was second in the junior boys 6km race 12 months ago but this time triumphed in 18:29, with Bulgaria’s Mitko Tsenov second as the hosts completed their clean sweep of all three of the men’s team titles.

Serbia’s Amela Terzic got her country’s only gold medal in Kocaeli as the 2011 European Athletics Junior Championships 1500m and 3000m winner defended her junior women’s title from 2011, winning over 4km in 13:28, while Romania packed well enough to take the team title.

Overall, 103 runners from seven different European Athletics Member Federations competed in the six races.

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