Belz fifth in Thun

Belz came close to winning a bronze medal Keystone Archive

Bern's Christian Belz made the most of home advantage on Sunday to take an impressive fifth place in the European cross-country championships in Thun.

This content was published on December 9, 2001 - 15:39

The 3,000-metre steeplechase specialist adapted well to the 12-kilometre race, missing out on a bronze medal by just two seconds.

"The guys who came in before me aren't exactly casual joggers," grinned a far-from-disappointed Belz afterwards. "That was a perfect race for me, I couldn't have done any more."

The men's race was won by Ukrainian favourite Sergei Lebid ahead of Holland's Kamiel Masse and Spain's Antonio Jimenez.

France's Yamna Belkacem was crowned European champion in the women's event, run over 4.65 kilometres. Russia's Olga Romanova took the silver medal with the bronze going to Poland's Justina Bak.

Switzerland's Anita Weyermann failed to trouble the leaders, crossing the finish line some 44 seconds later. But after ending the race in 40th place the Bernese runner insisted that she was not that disappointed.

"The result is in line with our expectations," insisted Weyermann who is once again being trained by her father Fritz.

One day after picking up the Swiss Newcomer of the Year title at the 2001 Sports Awards in Bern, Nicola Spirig was also unable to make much of an impression in Thun.

The reigning junior world triathlon champion was struggling even before the midway point of Sunday's junior race, eventually finishing in 56th position and almost a minute and a half off the pace.

swissinfo with agencies

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