Calvin is the new French heroine as Arikan makes history

Calvin is the new French heroine as Arikan makes history
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Turkey's Polat Kemboi Arikan triumphed in the men's race at the European Cup 10,000m in Skopje on Saturday.

A star was born and a champion confirmed his status on a superb evening of athletics at the 18th European Cup 10,000m in Skopje on Saturday.

France’s Clemence Calvin produced the biggest win of her career on her major debut at this distance as she triumphed in the women’s event while Turkey’s Polat Kemboi Arikan justified his favourite tag to regain the men’s title he won in 2012.

His win helped Turkey take the men’s team prize while Portugal were crowned women’s champions.

In December, Calvin was a team silver medallist at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Belgrade but now she is a champion in her own right after demonstrating once more the strength of French distance running.

Normally a 3000m competitor, this was some step up for the 24-year-old Calvin in a field brimming with 10,000m experience as Portugal’s Sara Moreira had won this event twice and Jessica Augusto was the silver medallist at the European Athletics Championships in Barcelona in 2010.

But neither of them had enough to peg back Calvin who won in 31:52.86.

Augusto was second in 31:55.56 with Moreira third in 32:01.42, ahead of Poland’s Karolina Jarynska in 32:03.57.

And just seven months on from Calvin’s French teammate Sophie Duarte winning the senior race in Belgrade, France has another excellent champion as Calvin became only the third French woman to win this event, joining Fatima Yvelain in 2000 and Margaret Maury in 2004.

She had finished 12th in Belgrade, the second French runner home at those SPAR European Cross Country Championships, to help her team to silver and now she has put herself third on the 2014 European Athletics rankings.

Instantly she will become a name to watch out for at the European Athletics Championships in Zurich in August and along with gold, Calvin has another team silver, too, after Laila Traby was sixth in 32:29.75 and Laure Funten was 29th in 35:11.77.

Their combined time of 1:39:34.38 was not enough to match the strength of the Portuguese women who took team gold with Sara Ribeiro’s seventh place in 32:56.45 putting her third among their runners behind Augusto and Moreira with an overall time of 1:36:53.43.

Spain, last year’s women champions, were back on the podium as they took bronze in 1:40:16.15 with Gema Barrachina fifth in 32:25.07, Lidia Rodriguez 15th in 33:51.61 and Paula Gonzalez 16th in 33:59.47.

It was in 2012 in Bilbao that Turkey's Arikan won European Cup 10,000m gold and he made history on Saturday by becoming the first man to take the title for a second time.

And his triumph led Turkey to their first team title.

Two years ago he went on to take gold at the European Athletics Championships in Helsinki after winning in Bilbao in 27:56.28 and on Saturday he led a Turkish one-two by crossing the line in 28:17.14 from Ali Kaya, who demonstrated his progress after winning the 10,000m at the European Junior Championships in Rieti last July.

Kaya was second here in a personal best of 28:17.82 with France's Yassine Mandour third, also in his quickest time, 28:22.30, with Italy's Jamel Chatbi fourth in 28:38:03.

Arikan is still only 23, Kaya is just 20 and at the European Athletics Championships, the pair of them could pose quite a threat.

They were joined in celebrating team gold by Mehmet Akkoyun who was seventh in 28:55.48 for a time of 1:25:30.44 as they beat last year's team champions Italy.

The Italians were second on Saturday in 1:27:36.24 led by Chatbi, with Ahmed El Mazoury eighth in 28:58.01 and Gian Marco Buttazzo 25th in 30:00.20, with Ukraine winning team bronze, with a time of 1:27:57.97, as Roman Romanenko finished sixth in 28:50.34, Ivan Strebkov was 12th in 29:33.38 and Dmytro Lashyn was 13th in 29:34.25.