Thanks to Karhu, we talked to the 9-time European cross country champion

Some human beings indelibly mark their sports disciplines. They are devourers of medals and records, they are athletes capable of dominating their performances, they are perfectionists motivated by a single need, a single goal that never stops being fundamental and primary: victory. Serhij Lebid’, born in Ukrainian Dnipropetrovs’k on July 15, 1975, is one of these mythical figures, of these all-powerful totems admired by every opponent and spectator. An Italian and adopted Verbania citizen, Lebid’ counts 19 consecutive appearances at the European XC Championships between 1994 and 2012. For more than two decades he literally dominated this event, finishing 12 times on the podium and winning 9 titles (including 5 consecutive). Thanks to Karhu, we met this sporting legend inside the Palace of Venaria, during the European Cross Country Championships, aka his paradise. We talked about the value of cross country and Ukrainian current events. These are his words.

“Cross country represents my whole life. It’s the beginning of everything. Children start running on these trails; that’s how I started, too. This is an indispensable foundation for road and track running. Ingebritsen’s presence at every European cross is not causal…. This phenomenon attends these competitions in order to prepare for the races he will run in the months to come, because the excellence of middle-distance running is prepared here. When I watch events like the European Cross Country Championships I get a little nostalgic and feel so many images, memories and moments come back. The mind matters as much as the body if you want to compete at this level. When you run on the track everything is the same, here it’s the opposite, you’re constantly alternating uphill and downhill: on the one hand you feel better, because you are in contact with nature, your breathing is purer and you never risk getting bored, on the other hand tracks like this force your body to enormous exertion. I still remember when I won my first European title and the following week I participated in a mud race where I finished far behind in the rankings…. You need time to understand the environmental factor, to get your muscles used to emerging from mud and tough grounds. I’m Italian by adoption, but I still live in Ukraine, where I manage middle-distance athletes for my country’s federation. It’s a very strange time, because when the war came everything became confused. Between sirens and missiles you don’t realize what’s going on, for the first period it’s like you feel the war far away from you, but then you understand and you end up getting used to something so negative… I just hope it ends as soon as possible, so many people are dying.”

Photo Credits: Rise Up Duo
Testo a cura di Gianmarco Pacione