Frenchman takes first title of the championships as Cairess continues successful day for British athletes in Gävle
Jimmy Gressier won the first gold medal of the European U23 Championships in Gävle, Sweden, adding the 10,000m title to his two cross country titles.
Like his winning performance at the European Cross Country Championships in Tilburg in December, the Frenchman was dominant and celebrated in style. Unlike his victorious moment in Holland, however – where he attempted to slide over the line on his knees but ended up flat on his face in the mud with a flag in each hand – this time the colourful character stayed on his feet.
Weaving across the track with his arms in the air as he ran down the home straight, Gressier enjoyed a clear victory as he clocked 28:44.17 to win ahead of Israel’s Tadesse Getahon with 28:46.97.
Emile Cairess continued what proved to be a very successful first day for the British team in Gävle as he claimed the bronze medal, running 28:50.21 as his team-mates Jake Smith and Mahamed Mahamed were eighth in 29:01.08 and 14th in 29:10.46 respectively.
“Cross country is still my favourite event because I really enjoy running outside in the middle of nature,” said Gressier, who will also race the 5000m at the championships.
“Although running cross country comes very natural to me, I am slowly getting used to running on a stadium track, and I feel the 10,000m is the right event for me in the future.
“I couldn’t be happier with this European title, but now I want to focus on the 5000m on Saturday. I need to get some rest in my legs because I’d like to win another title here.
“During the press conference, I promised I’d celebrate in style again if I came first, but this track was too hard on my legs so I decided to just raise my arms and glide like an aeroplane.”
Kicking with four laps to go, it was the 22-year-old’s 61-second circuit which really made an impact and 21-year-old Cairess had moved up to third with three laps to go.
“Winning a bronze medal feels really good,” said BUCS cross country champion Cairess.
“Throughout the race I felt we were going really fast but, every time I looked around, there was still a lot of us in the group.
“I am happy the way I stayed alert, I knew I had to be ready to go if anyone made a move to the front.
“Before coming here I had hopes to get a medal, but there’s a long way between thinking it and that actually happening. I’m glad it worked for me today.”
On the first day of action in Sweden, every British athlete taking part in qualifying progressed to either the semi-finals or final in their respective events.
First up, Jacob Fincham-Dukes leapt 7.53m and Reynold Banigo 7.52m to qualify for the long jump final after placing in the top 12 in qualifying.
After being second-quickest in the men’s 100m heats with 10.46 (-1.0m/sec) behind Sweden’s Henrik Larsson with 10.45, British indoor 60m champion Dom Ashwell ran 10.63 (-1.4m/sec) to make the final, while Oliver Bromby clocked 10.83 into an even stronger headwind (-2.1m/sec) and then ran 10.49 (-1.2m/sec) in his semi-final.
European 4x400m silver medallist Cameron Chalmers won his 400m heat in 47.33.
Reigning European under-20 1500m champion Jemma Reekie, who is attempting a middle-distance double in Sweden, clocked 2:04.74 to go quickest in the 800m heats and she’ll be joined in the final by her fellow Briton Ellie Baker, who won heat two in 2:07.14.
Jake Heyward clocked 3:47.08 to win his 1500m heat and qualify quickest for the final, where he’ll be joined by Piers Copeland who ran 3:47.72 for third in the first heat.
All three of GB’s 110m hurdlers made the semi-finals as Cameron Fillery won his heat in 14.05 (-1.7m/sec), while Tade Ojora ran 14.15 (-2.8m/sec) and James Weaver clocked 14.21 (-2.5m/sec).
Britain’s three pole vaulters also qualified as Adam Hague, Joel Leon Benitez and Charlie Myers all cleared 5.20m and ho higher bars were needed to make the final.
Aimee Pratt won the first 3000m steeplechase heat in 10:05.79, while Anna Emilie Møller of Denmark won the second in 10:01.00.
It was one and done for Naomi Ogbeta as she booked her spot in the triple jump final with her first jump in qualifying of 13.57m (+1.5m/sec).
European indoor 60m champion Ewa Swoboda of Poland went quickest in both the 100m heats and semi-finals, clocking 11.48 and 11.41 respectively to make the final.
Reigning European indoor and outdoor long jump champion Miltiadis Tentoglou of Greece automatically progressed to the final with a 7.80m leap, while European indoor shot put champion Konrad Bukowiecki will hope to continue his winning ways after claiming gold at the World University Games as he threw 20.44m in shot put qualifying.
Germany’s Sophie Weissenberg leads the heptathlon at the end of the first day, helped into the top spot by a PB of 14.18m in the shot put.
She has 3675 points after four events, ahead of Poland’s Adrianna Sulek with 3589 and Hanne Maudens of Belgium with 3576.
There was disappointment for France’s European indoor pentathlon bronze medallist Solène Ndama, however. After going fastest in the 100m hurdles with 13.38 she was then unable to clear her opening height of 1.67m in the high jump.
Results can be found here.