Sabbatini Anchors Win for Italy

By Clay Shaw
Photography by Clay Shaw and Karen Mitchell

Turin, Italy, Piemonte-La Mandria Park, December 11, 2022, SPAR European Cross-Country Championships, Mixed Relays—Gaia Sabbatini of Italy outkicked Rosalia Tarraga of Spain in the home straight, much to the delight of the celebrating home crowd. Sabbatini struggled on the hills, but her track speed made the difference in the end. It was Italy’s first ever victory in the mixed relay, since the event was added in 2017.

Elena Panaet of Romania ran a 4:37 lap to put Romania in lead at halfway, but then faded to eleventh over the final two legs.

Italy took gold, Spain won silver, and France won bronze.

Flash quotes courtesy of the event

Italy, Gold

Pietro ARESE – We did the Italian trials to come here on this track, so I think we knew the course and had a small advantage today comparing to the other teams. It was pretty special to run here on the home soil, especially for me, because I am from Turin, so it was very emotional. We had the home crowd cheering for us and we did our best to become the European champions.

Federica DEL BUONO – There was a big support from the Italian guys so it is a big satisfaction for us. In our team, we are all friends. So it is special. In my lap, I had some difficutlies because there were not athletes in front of me but we knew these guys are very strong and it is special to win a gold. It will be my birthday tomorrow, so this was the best present and we will celebrate it.

Yassin BOUIH – Winning a relay is like winning four times. We came here with a dram to win a medal. It was awesome to win a gold but it was even more awesome to win it in Italy at home. So we are very proud. We will come home with this fulfilled dream. We will celebrate tonigh for sure and we invite all the fans to join us.

Gaia SABBATINI – I felt very responsible to bring this team to the finish line on the best position and it was very hard. The public was just amazing and it helped us a lot.

Silver, Spain

Jesus GOMEZ – The first leg of this relay is always added pressure, but I felt very at ease, and both uphill and downhill I ran as strong as I could. I stumbled and fell twice, which was a shame because I feel I could have finished this first leg ahead of everyone else. But having had two falls is a shame on my part, but overall, I am pleased with the second place and happy for team mates, too.

Solange PEREIRA – Having seen our U20 athletes doing well before we came out here was a bit of extra motivation for the race. It was great to see Maria winning the gold, and to feel inspired to do our best out there.

Adrian BEN – I just came back from a two-week training camp in South Africa so this was tough. Quite a bit of a change compared to here. To be honest, I felt strong from the start, and my goal was to get as close to the French athlete as possible, so I would be closer to the group. I managed to finish in second position which was good.

Rosalia TARRAGA – I really wanted to go out ahead of everyone, and I went out super fast, so it was a bit of crazy. I could see myself getting the gold medal for Spain, but all of a sudden, I could see another girl next to me and, although I am pleased with our team silver medal, I also feel a bit annoyed because I could see myself getting that gold for us.

Team Results

  1. Italy
  2. Spain
  3. France
  4. Germany
  5. Great Britain
  6. Hungary
  7. Belgium
  8. Denmark
  9. Ireland
  10. Portugal
  11. Romania
  12. Finland
  13. Croatia
  14. Andorra

Italy starts the mixed relay in front with the Alps in the background.
Elena Panaet of Romania had the strongest lap two, as she takes aim at runners from Finland and Great Britain.
Federica Del Buono of Italy gets plenty of crowd support on lap two.
Italy charges into the lead at the beginning of the Mixed Relay. Four athletes from each country – 2 men and 2 women, each doing a full lap of the course.
Elena Pamaet of Romania ran a fast second leg to lead at halfway over Italy and the rest of the field.
At halfway with two laps to go. France is third and Spain is fifth.
Gaia Sabbatini of Italy gives it her all on the home stretch to win, giving Italy their first ever Team Relay victory at Euro XC in front of the home fans. Team Spain was second.
Gaia Sabbatini of Italy is met by her ecstatic teammates after push to the victory on the home stretch, with Spain right behind.
Italy won the Mixed Relay.
Spain was second in the team relay.
France was third in the team relay.


Categories: Race Coverage

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