SPAR European Cross Country Championships press conference highlights

Ahead of the 26th edition of the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Lisbon, Portugal on Sunday (8), some of the leading international and domestic athletes shared their thoughts with the media ahead of the competition at the pre-event press conference which took place at the Lisbon City Hall. 

Julien Wanders (SUI)

On competing at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships for the first time since 2015…

“I like to change my preparation – I don’t want to do the same thing every year and fall into a routine. After Doha, I thought what could I do to change it up a little bit and I just decided the cross country could be a good challenge. I enjoyed it when I was younger so it feels good to be back at cross country.”

On trying to win Switzerland’s first ever medal in the senior men’s race…

“I think the history of cross country running in Switzerland is five medals – only women – so it would be nice to bring a medal back. I’m definitely going for a medal. We will see tomorrow.”

On what he has learnt from living and training in Kenya…

“It’s very different. In Kenya, running is a job – it’s something they do for a living and over here, people run because they enjoy it. They don’t run for the same goal. 

“It’s crazy – in Iten where I train, I train with a group of 30-40 people and it pushes me every day and what I learnt the most in Kenya is: be confident and have no limits. Don’t limit yourself to what you think is possible and this is the spirit I will take tomorrow. I will go limitless. 

Denmark's Anna Emilie Moller on her title defence in the U23 race at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships
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Denmark’s Anna Emilie Moller on her title defence in the U23 race at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships

Anna Emilie Moller (DEN)

On whether being one of the biggest favourites across the championships adds any pressure…

“I don’t know if it brings extra pressure because I always put a lot of pressure on myself and that’s enough I would say!”

On the importance of doing a full cross country season…

“The winter season is very important for the summer season. It’s important to have this base training for getting a good track season. I enjoy cross country and it’s nice to have competitions in the winter when you have a lot of training and getting the variation as well.”

On her thoughts about the course…

“I enjoy tougher courses with variation. I think this will be a nice course but different to most European Cross Country Championships courses. It’s hilly, challenging and with twists and turns so I am looking forward to it.”

Portugal's Ana Dulce Felix is targeting her fifth individual medal at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships
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Portugal’s Ana Dulce Felix is targeting her fifth individual medal at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships

Ana Dulce Felix (POR)

On her memories of competing at the championships the last time they were held in Portugal in 2010…

“It reminds me of the time I won my first individual medal and the Portuguese team achieved the gold. I remember that moment and after six years of not being in the Portuguese team at this championships, I want to show great form tomorrow.”

On the record Portugal has amassed in the senior race [eight gold medals in the team race] and what this has meant for Portuguese athletics…

“I am very proud of our record – we have achieved great moments for Portuguese athletics, especially the gold medals at the European Championships. This generation of athletes is moving to the marathon now but for me – it’s still a great pleasure to be here with my two colleagues Carla Salome Rocha and Carla Francisco. We hope to do the best we can with the support of the Portuguese public.”

On her expectations for tomorrow’s race…

“I have four individual medals in my career from this championship and I hope to gain a fifth medal tomorrow. I know I am focusing on the marathon and I want to work very hard ahead of the Olympic Games in Tokyo but I want to prove something else in cross country. This is the turning point and because it is in Portugal, I have put a lot of preparation into this race.”

Andre Pereira ahead of the SPAR European Cross Country Championships
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Andre Pereira ahead of the SPAR European Cross Country Championships

Andre Pereira (POR)

On competing on home soil at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships…

“A competition in our home country is always special, especially as my team [Benfica] has a stadium near here. I don’t go for medals but we will fight for our country and give a good example.”

On how familiar he is with the course at the Bela Vista Park…

“Our national championships two weeks ago was on the same course so we know it very well. It’s very tough but I especially like this type of course. It’s tough – there are many hills. The last few European Cross Country Championships have been quite flat so I think the winner might be different this year because of the course.”

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