The sports season has now ended for most Slovak athletes, but not for runners. The peak of the season, the 24th European Cross Country Championship in Šamorín, awaits them on the 10th of December at x-bionic® sphere.
Elite Slovak endurance runners have expressed interest in attending this extraordinary event. However, only the top three in each category will have the opportunity to compete at the European Championships in December. In exceptional circumstances, more Slovak athletes will be allowed to race.
The first qualification race will be held on 29 October in Cabaj which used to host the famous Grand Prix in cross country in the 70s and the 80s, an event that welcomed the double Olympic champion Waldemar Cierpinski five times. Men and women will run on a 2400 m long circuit, 9,6 km and 7,2 km, respectively. The final decision regarding the Slovak representation will be made after the race on 19 November at x-bionic® sphere in Šamorín, which will feature a course almost identical to the one of the European Championships three weeks later.
During a meeting of the Slovak Athletic Federation last weekend, the committee decided that Slovakia will take part in the mixed relays competition on 4 x 1,5 km, a new discipline at the European Championships. The names of the two male runners are already known (Jozef Pelikán and Jozef Repčík), while a special qualification round for female athletes will be held on 26 November in Banská Bystrica. The most promising contestants for the free slots are Alexandra Štuková and Katarína Beľová.
“We would like to get into the top 30 at least in one category, as well as into the top 40 in another individual race. As far as the team competitions are concerned, it would be great if we could finish in the top 8, like our women’s team under 23 last year,” said chief coach Martin Pupiš about the goals for the upcoming championships.
TOP SLOVAK ACHIEVEMENTS AT ECH IN CROSS COUNTRY SO FAR
MEN - 29. Róbert Štefko, Medulin 2002
WOMEN - 36. Katarína Berešová, Albufeira 2010
MEN - „23“ 55. Peter Ďurec, Samokov 2014
WOMEN - „23“ 39. Lucia Janečková, Chia 2016
JUNIORS - 55. Dušan Hlubocký, Ferrara 1998
JUNIORS (FEMALES) - 49. Lucia Janečková, Szentendre 2012
PHOTO: JÁN LUKY.