THE ISF WORLD SCHOOLS CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPS TOOK PLACE IN PARIS
WITH cross-country fighting to return to the Olympic programme, the sport enjoyed the spotlight last week in Paris when the ISF World Schools Championships took place in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.
Four races unfolded under the famous building on the banks of the River Seine in the Champs de Mars – a large expanse of grass which is set to be used as the beach volleyball venue when the French capital holds the Olympics in 2024.
Australians Ella Heeney and Abbey Rockliff won the two girls’ races while Istvan Palkovits of Hungary and Cherrad Oussama won the boys’ races, while the topplaced English athletes were Francesca Brint in third and Matt Willis in fifth as they led their squad to silver medals.
In addition to Paris staging the Olympic Games in six years’ time, the races in the city last week also took place a few months before cross country will be staged in the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires.
Despite being a spectacular setting, the course itself, though, was not a fantastic advertisement for crosscountry. Much of the racing was done on flat and twisty dirt paths in the park with the only ‘obstacles’ being a few puddles and some small artificial mounds.
In 12 months’ time, however, cross country is likely to showcase itself in greater style when the IAAF World Cross Country Championships is staged in Aarhus.
The picturesque Danish city has created a course that involves athletes running over the grassy roof of a Viking museum, with a ‘mud pit’, ‘sand pit’ and ‘cheering tent’ among the features on the course as thousands of club runners and school children will rub shoulders with elite competitors.
Athletes raced in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower last week