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Julien Wanders 8th at the World Champion­ships

Half marathon World Championships

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Switzerland’s Julien Wanders took another big step in his brilliant year when he finished as the leading European in the men’s race at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Valencia.

In the week of his 22nd birthday, the WINFORCE athlete was eighth in 61:03, a superb run which he can now carry into the summer where he will contest either the 5000m or 10,000m on the track at the European Championships in Berlin.

"I'm proud of myself, I've proven that I do not have to fear anyone," he told Swiss reporters after the event. A race won by Kenya’s reigning two-time champion Geoffrey Kamworor in 60:02, Wanders was prominent in the pack early on and fared well in an event where the champion broke away with 6km left to take command, covering the segment between 15-20km in a scintillating 13:01.

But the Swiss 1500m champion, who originates from a family of musicians, is starting to strike a big note in the athletics world having broken the European U23 record and national senior record for the half marathon, finishing second in Barcelona last month in 60:09. Amid windy conditions, he could not quite match that but he will be further encouraged by finishing a place ahead of Turkey’s Kaan Kigen Ozbilen (61:05), the SPAR European cross country champion from Samorin last December.

Wanders' Barcelona time remains the best by a European this year but he will refocus on the track this summer with the European Championships in Berlin one of his goals. He was the Swiss 5000m champion in 2016 and won the 1500m title last summer. Having started the year with a half marathon personal best of 61:43 from 2017, he has now twice surpassed that time which will only do wonders for the confidence for this emerging talent of European distance running.

Source: European Athletics