2012 European Athletics Championships: Big Interest to Participate in Helsinki, by Alfons Juck, note by Larry Eder

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Christophe Lemaitre, 2010 European Championships, photo by PhotoRun.net

The European Championships, will be held next week in Helsinki, Finland next week. Over 1,300 athletes will be competing, so the 2012 Euro champs will be a success. In Olympic years, it will become a great place to prepare for the Olympic events.

RBR will be observing the Europeans, thanks to our friends at EME news. From the Euros, we should see some of the new stars and some of the veterans and how their fitness level can be judged for London 2012.


HELSINKI (FIN): European athletics informs that a total of 1342 athletes, including 738 male and 604 female athletes from all 50 European Athletics Member Federation countries have entered for the championships to be held in Helsinki next week. It must be noted that the Race Walking and Marathon events are not part of the European Athletics Championships in an Olympic year. The number is comparable to the entries received for Barcelona 2010, which gives a true indication of the value associated with the new two-year format for the European Athletics Championships. A total of 1370 athletes, including 761 men and 609 women, entered for the last edition of the championships in Barcelona. This figure included 203 athletes who competed in road races. Major athletics nations Germany, Great Britain, Russia, France, Spain, Italy and Poland will all send top squads to Helsinki. Let´s have a look at 35 countries where EME NEWS was able to get the selection.






RUSSIA: Strong Russian team will have 69 athletes (34 men and 35 women). Russians will be missed only in men´s 100 m, 1500 m and women´s 10 000 m and javelin. All four relays will be represented. Four European leaders and candidates for medals are Sergey Shubenkov at 110 m hurdles, Irina Maracheva at 800 m, Yekaterina Gorbunova in the 1500 m and Irina Davydova in the 400 m hurdles. Other four athletes are on the second place in the current European list (Arzhakova 800 m, Khaleyeva 1500 m, Kireyeva 5000 m and Sviridova shot put). Another star of the team is the 800 m Olympic winner 2004 Yuriy Borzakovskiy. The high jump school will be represented by Sergey Mudrov and Irina Gordeyeva. 2009 World medalist Aleksey Zagorniy is in the hammer. Strong trio for decathlon (Kharlamov, Lukyanenko, Shkurenev). The only 400 m women representative will be Kseniya Zadorina. As usual good quality in the long jump (Denyayeva, Zhukovskaya) and in the triple jump (Borodina, Zabara). Unfortunately no one from Russian 2011 world champions from Daegu is competing.


CZECH REPUBLIC: In total 44 athletes (25 men and 19 women). It is the second biggest, only 2006 Goteborg had one more. Medal hopes for national record holder Pavel Maslak in the 400 m, World indoor medalist Jakub Holusa in the 800, high jumper Jaroslav Baba, javelin world leader Vitezslav Vesely and the best decathlete ever Roman Sebrle going for his fourth European Champs. On the women side strong duo Zuzana Hejnova and Denisa Rosolova in the 400 m hurdles, pole vaulter Jirina Ptacnikova and fresh national record holder Eliska Klucinova in heptathlon. Missing is unfortunately javelin world record holder Barbora Spotakova who gives preference to the olympic preparation. Also three relays will be competing.


SLOVAKIA: Title defender Libor Charfreitag is selected in the 12 (7 men and 6 women) athletes strong team of Slovakia but his shape is not at the level which would allow the title defence. Good hopes for triple jumper Dana Veldakova, who is double European indoor medalist. Lucia Klocova despite recording the national record in the Bislett Games at the 1500 m will go for the 800 m. Another high position is aimed by 2009 World hammer medalist Martina Hrasnova.


POLAND: In total 57 athletes (33 men and 24 women) from Poland including all four relays with strong tradition here. 2009 World champion Anita Wlodarczyk is the star of the hammer, also to mention former world medalist Marek Plawgo at 400 m hurdles and olympic finalist Artur Noga at 110 m hurdles. Former olympic and world winner Szymon Ziolkowski will have his fifth European champs in a row since 1998 (he was three times 5th in the finals). On the women side strong 1500 m duo Angelika Cichocka and former European indoor champion Lidia Chojecka, 400 m hurdles medalist Anna Jesien and world medalist in pole vault Monika Pyrek. Unfortunately a group of top athletes decided to concentrate on the Olympic Games (Kszczot, Lewandowski, Majewski, Malachowski, Fajdek).


SLOVENIA: Slovenia sends 19 athletes with 13 women and 6 men. Solid chances for Martina Ratej in javelin, triple jumpers Snezana Rodic with Marija Sestak, NCAA champion Tina Sutej in the pole vault and young talent Zan Rudolf in the 800 m (still a junior who clocked national senior record). Recently improved is high jumper Rozle Prezelj. Special member of the team will be legendary sprinter Merlene Ottey who was selected for the 4x100 m relay. The 52 years old Jamaica-born will compete in her 3rd European Championships after Goteborg and Barcelona. Imagine she competed at Olympic Games 1980. Unfortunately hammer olympic winner Primoz Kozmus wants to prepare for London and will not compete.


UKRAINE: Big 70 athletes team comes from Ukraine (30 men and 40 women). On the men side medal chances for decathlete Olesiy Kasyanov, javelin thrower Oleksandr Pyatnytsa, powerful high jump trio (Demyanyuk, Protsenko, Bondarenko), Maksim Mazuryk in pole vault, European U23 Champion Sheryf El-Sheryf in the triple jump and multiple European CC Champion Sergiy Lebid for the 5000 m. In women team the headliner is triple jump world champion Olha Saladukha, also to count with fast sprinters Olesy Povkh at 100 m, Marya Ryemyen at 200 m (Bryzgina only for relay). As usual power in middle distances (800 m Lobanova, Petlyuk, Zhusman and 1500 m Mishchenko, Shevchenko). Olympic winner Natalya Dobrynska is not competing but still strong trio in heptathlon with Melnychenko, Yosypenko and Fyodorova. Three relays will compete, both on women side with medal hopes.


FRANCE: Huge team of 68 athletes (41 men and 27 women) will have top stars like Christophe Lemaitre in sprints (100 m and relay), Renaud Lavillenie in pole vault, Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad in steeple as main medal hopes. Interesting to see also title defender Myriam Soumare in women 200 m. Olympic winner Francoise Mbango will for first time compete in the European Championships (the Cameroon athlete got the French citizenship in April 2010 and this will be her first top event since Beijing 2008). Christine Arron at age of 38 is going to compete at her third European Champs after 1998 and 2010 and she will be the only individual champion from Budapest 1998 also competing 2012 in Helsinki. Younger generation top athletes include sprinter Jimmy Vicaut, 400 m runner Yannick Fonsat, 800 m runner Pierre-Ambroise Bosse, Garfield Darien at 110 m hurdles, Mickael Hanany in the high jump. France will have also all four relays.


GREAT BRITAIN: UK Athletics has selected a squad of 109 athletes from which the Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland Team will be finally selected for the European Athletics Championships in Finland. The side will be reduced in size following this weekend's Aviva 2012 Trials. Any track athletes already having gained automatic qualification for Team GB will be de-selected in order to focus on their preparations for the Olympic Games. Field event athletes however, will be permitted to compete in Helsinki should the additional competition opportunity benefit their overall build up. The final Aviva GB & NI team for the event will be confirmed on the morning of Monday 25 June - after the conclusion of the Aviva 2012 Trials. In the provisional squad for example Mo Farah at 5000 m, Dwain Chambers at 100 m, Nigel Levine in the 400 m, Andrew Osagie in the 800 m, Andy Pozzi and Lawrence Clarke in the 110 m hurdles, Robbie Grabarz and Samson Oni in high jump, Chris Tomlinson in long jump, Lawrence Okoye in discus. On the women side European top young athlete 2011 Jodie Williams is selected for the 200 m, Jenny Meadows for the 800 m, Lisa Dobriskey for the 1500 m, Jo Pavey in the 10 000 m, Tiffany Porter at 100 m hurdles, Shara Proctor in long jump, veteran Yamile Aldama in the triple, Goldie Sayers in javelin, Louise Hazel in heptathlon. All four relays should compete.


GERMANY: Another big team, 94 Germans (48 men and 46 women). Germany will be represented in all events except of women 800 m, 19 events will have the biggest possible number of 3 German athletes. Headliners are throwing world champions David Storl, Robert Harting, Matthias de Zordo. Other throwers world record holder Betty Heidler, Christina Obergfoll, Nadine Muller, Markus Esser and Nadine Kleinert. As usual top pole vaulters on the men (Mohr, Holzdeppe, Otto) and on the women side (Spiegelburg, Ryzih, Strutz). European indoor champions Carolin Nytra (100 m hurdles) and Sebastian Bayer (long jump) are also selected. European title will be defended by Verena Sailer in the 100 m. Young fast sprinters Lukas Jakubczyk in the 100 m and Aleixo Platini Menga in the 200 m, in distances to note Arne Gabius in the 5000 m, Sabrina Mockenhaupt in the 10 000 m. Strong decathlon hope is Pascal Behrenbruch. All four relays will compete. High jump star Ariane Friedrich is also in the team.


AUSTRIA: 7 men and 3 women from Austria. For the finals hoping hurdles record holder Beate Schrott. On the men side Andreas Vojta with Brenton Rowe (coming from Australia) are aiming for the finals in the 1500 m.


NETHERLANDS: The Dutch athletics federation KNAU has presented its team composed by 21 individual athletes. The KNAU is also sending out three relay team and has decided to also allow returning athlete Gregory Sedoc to compete. The federation has left the decision whether to send Barcelona European silver medalist Yvonne Hak to Helsinki pending and will decide later this week. Star sprinter Churandy Martina confirmed he is aiming to win his first European title next week in Helsinki. The sprinter, in his first year competing for The Netherlands, will surely make the 100m and 200m double at the London Olympic Games and in Helsinki will focus on the 200 m.


BELGIUM: A team of 22 athletes and 2 relay teams have been selected to represent Belgium. Borlée brothers Kevin and Jonathan will compete in the 4x400m relay in preparation for the London Olympic Games, while also world decathlon leader Hans Van Alphen and defending Olympic high jump champion Tia Hellebaut have both decided to skip the championships. European bronze triple jump champion Svetlana Bolshakova and Almensch Belete lead a young women's team that also features improved Anne Zagré at 100 m hurdles. The men's team features European U23 decathlon champion Thomas Van der Plaetsen, European indoor 60m hurdles bronze medalist Adrien Deghelt and world indoor 5 th placer Jan Van Den Broeck in the 800m.


SWEDEN: Another bigger team Tre Kronor with 41 athletes (23 men and 18 women) with some solid final chances. Johan Wissman at 400 m, improved names Andreas Otterling in long jump and Kim Amb with Gabriel Wallin in javelin. On the women side high jump duo Emma Green-Tregaro and Ebba Jungmark, with former heptathlon star Carolina Kluft trying the long jump. World junior record holder Angelica Bengtsson competes in the pole vault. Men and women will run 4x100 m.


BULGARIA: 11 men and majority 15 women (in total 26) will come from Bulgaria. Vania Stambolova could attack the podium at 400 m hurdles, Venelina Veneva is European medalist 2006 in the high jump, Ivet Lalova was the top European last year at World Championships in Daegu in the 100 m. From men team triple jumper Momchil Karailiev has final hopes after being Barcelona 2010 and Beijing Olympic finalist. Women will run the 4x100 m.


ISRAEL: The Israeli team to the 21st European Athletics Champs includes 10 athletes (7 men and 3 women). Donald Sanford is the top name in the men team along with talented high jumper Dmitriy Kroyter and improved triple jumper Yochai Halevi. Pole vaulter Jillian Schwartz is the most experienced from the female trio. She was World Championships finalist in 2005 when competing for USA.


FINLAND: Home country plans to have representatives in all events (they are allowed to do it even without any standard one per event) except of men 800 m, 110 m hurdles, triple jump and shot put and women 10 000 m and long jump. Former European champion Jukka Keskisalo is in the steeple, good quality long jump trio (Evila, Kivinen, Ollikainen). In traditional and most popular javelin five are entered, top three will be decided later (Mannio, Pitkamaki, Ruuskanen, Wirkkala, Etelatalo). Any women final will be a good success. All four relay teams are entered. Three athletes are entered with the provision to confirm their result level until June 24 (Granlund for 800 m, Heina for 110 m hurdles and Tammentie in the triple jump).


PORTUGAL: Nearly equal number of 19 men and 18 women will represent Portugal. In men team all three 10 000 m entries will fight for good positions (el Kalai, R.P. Silva, Rocha), also Marcos Chuva in the long jump and Marco Fortes in the shot put. Women team has the strongest points also at the distances. European leader 2012 Sara Moreira runs the 5000 m, Ana Dulce Felix, Leonor Carneiro and Ana Dias are entered in the 10 000 m. Men will run 4x100 m and women 4x400 m.


GREECE: 28 athletes from Greece (17 men and 11 women) with some solid medal hopes. For example 200 m runner Likourgos-Stefanos Tsakonas, hurdles record holder Konstadinos Douvalidis, former Europeach champion Periklis Iakovakis at 400 m hurdles. As usual good shape by pole vault record holder Kostas Filippidis, strong is long jump trio (Tsakonas, Diamantaras and Tsatoumas) and javelin revelation Spiridon Lebesis. From the women names to mention strong triple jump trio (Perra, Papahristou and Panetta) and sprints sensation Maria Belibasaki. Men will run 4x400 m. Despite setting standards higher than those of the EA, the Greek Federation decided eventually to include in the team for the European Championships all the athletes who achieved the mentioned standards. High jump world indoor champion Dimítrios Hondrokoúkis is the only top athlete who will not travel to Helsinki, as he had already declared that he will skip the European Championships in order to concentrate on his Olympic Games preparation.


HUNGARY: 14 men and 6 women were selected in Hungary. Top medal hopes hammer thrower Krisztian Pars and discus thrower Zoltan Kovago. Solid chances for finals last year European junior champion Marcell Deak Nagy in the 400 m and both high hurdlers Balazs Baji with Daniel Kiss. Men will also run the 4x400 m relay.


SERBIA: Serbian team has 7 men and 4 women. Special is the participation of 41-years old Dragutin Topic who cleared this year masters World record 228 cm. He is European Champion from 1990. He competed also in 1994 and 1998, but then missed the following three editions and is returning to the event after 14 years. Also to mention decathlete Mihai Dudas and long jumper Ivana Spanovic.


DENMARK: Only 2 women and 8 men, that is the team Denmark. Good chances for 800 m runner Andreas Bube and long jumper Morten Jensen. Sara Petersen also showed improvement in the women 400 m hurdles.


ESTONIA: 15 men and 8 women are in the 23 persons of the Estonian team for Helsinki. Olympic discus winner Gerd Kanter is the top name, finals also possible for high jump national record holder Anna Iljustsenko. Sprinter Marek Niit is entered into the 200 m. Because of injuries missing are Anders Raja, Mikk Pahapill and Ksenija Balta.


ITALY: Italian team will have 11 athletes who will debut in the national team. In total 33 men and 28 women (61) are selected. Daniele Meucci is entered in both 5000 m and 10 000 m as medal hope, also to note Italian record holder Emanuele Abate in the 110 m hurdles, usual strong 100 m (Cerutti, Collio, Riparelli) and all four relays. Good quality in men triple jump with Fabrizio Donato and Daniele Greco. Experienced medalist Nicola Vizzoni competes in hammer. Top shape in women 400 m by Libania Grenot, hurdler Marzia Caravelli, long distance runners Nadia Ejaffini, Elena Romagnolo and Silvia Weissteiner. European indoor champion 2011 Simona La Mantia is in the triple jump. IAAF confirmed the change of nationality for former Ukrainian Maksym Cerrone Obrubanskyy who is now allowed to run for Italy in Helsinki. He improved at the 5000 m this month to 13:27.15.


LATVIA: 15 men and 9 women from Latvia with strong javelin trio Vadim Vasilevskis, Zisigmunds Sirmais and Ainars Kovals. Another top name is the title defender in the long jump Ineta Radevica. Men will also run the 4x100 m relay.


LITHUANIA: 13 men and 11 women here. Rytis Sakaulaskas leads the 4x100 m team with some expectations in the individual 100 m. Lina Grincikaite runs women 100 m. Talented Airine Palsyte is in the high jump. Heptathlete Austra Skujyte decided to compete only individually (high jump, shot put). Unfortunately legendary Virgilijus Alekna is going for the olympics.


LUXEMBOURG: Four athletes will compete (3 men and 1 woman). Former Kenyan David Karonei runs the 1500 m.


NORWAY: In Norway´s team women are prevailing with 17 places against 11 by men. Sprint record holder Ezinne Okparaebo is medal hope in the 100 m, she also plans to run the 200 m. For both sprints named men record holder Jaysuma Saidy Ndure. But the top name is javelin star Andreas Thorkildsen. Solid 1500 m expected from Henrik Ingebrigtsen and Ingvill Makestad Bovim, Christina Vukicevic is in the hurdles and surprise could come from improved Tonje Angelsen in the high jump. Women will run the 4x400 m.


SPAIN: Another big team is Spain with 70 athletes (42 men and 28 women). For example in Barcelona as hosts Spain had 84 athletes. High jumper Ruth Beitia and discus thrower Mario Pestano will be the captains. In the men events only javelin and decathlon are not covered. Traditionally strong teams in distances (800: Reina, Lopez, Marco, 1500: Rodriguez, Bustos, Olmedo, 5000: Sanchez, Alves, Espana, 10 000: Lamdassem, Castillejo, Penas, steeple: Garcia, Merzogoui, Jimenez). Long jumper Luis Felipe Meliz and second discus thrower Frank Casanas are additional names to consider hopes for good positions. On the women side 2009 World champion Marta Dominguez runs the steeple, Nuria Fernandez is in the 1500 m. All four relays will compete also.


SWITZERLAND: This will be the biggest team since 1994 with 27 athletes. Men´s 4x100 m is having some hopes with individual improvements this year by Rolf Fongue (100 m), Amaru Schenkel (100m, 200 m) and Alex Wilson (100 m, 200 m). Marc Schneeberger due to some health problems runs only relay. Women team headliner is hurdles record holder Lisa Urech and pole vault national record holder Nicole Buchler. Long jump record holder Irene Pusterla is missing last year shape, but will travel. Women are competing also in the 4x100 m relay.


CROATIA: Title defender in discus Sandra Perkovic is the main name in the team of 11 athletes (5 women and 6 men). Shot putters Marin Premeru and Nedzad Mulabegovic will attack the finals.


ROMANIA: Another team with more women is Romania. In total 17 and 10 men. Olympic medalist Marian Oprea is the male headliner in the triple jump. From women selection 400 m hurdler Angela Morosanu and as usual solid distance team (Lavric for 800 m, Doaga for 1500 m, Barca for 3000 m and Bobocel for steeple).


IRELAND: Ireland is sending 26 athletes among them European CC Champion Fionnuala Britton selected for the 10 000 m. Irish record holder Joanne Cuddihy will compete over 400 m, while Brian Gregan, Steven Colvert, Paul Hession and Jason Smyth lead a strong Irish men's contingent in the sprint events. In the field events pole vault record holder Tori Pena will be the sole Irish representative. Irish record holder's Deirdre Ryan in the high jump and hurdler Derval O'Rourke will not compete in Helsinki, both preferring to focus all their intentions on the upcoming London Olympic Games. Men and women will run 4x400 m relay.


BELARUS: 28 athletes from Belarus (17 women and 11 men) with strong male hammer trio (Shayunov, Krivitskiy, Svyatokho), triple jump record holder Kseniya Detsiuk, Svetlana Usovich for the 400 m and 2004 Olympic 100 m winner Yulia Nesterenko. Both women relays will compete. World indoor medalist Alina Talay could well attack medal podium in the 100 m hurdles. It should be noted that top throwers were not selected (Ostapchuk, Tikhon, Menkova), the same for recent 7 meters long jumpers (Shutkova, Mironchyk-Ivanova).


MACEDONIA: Two athletes representing the country will be male 400 m runner Kristian Efremov and female sprinter Ivana Rozman. Both are also selected for Olympic Games as the two possibilities in each gender without standard.


TURKEY: Turkey selected big team of 44 athletes for European Championships in Helsinki. Among 22 women and 20 men some medal hopes, like steeple European leader Gulcan Mingir (9:13.53 last weekend), long distance runner Polat Kemboi Arikan selected for 5000 m and 10 000 m, world indoor 1500 m medalist Ilham Tanui Ozbilen, javelin thrower and European U23 Champion Fatih Avan and improved 1500 m runner Gamze Bulut (4:03.42 this year). Also in the team is European Champion 2010 at 100 m hurdles Nevin Yanit. Despite no outdoor races also the World indoor medalist at 1500 m Asli Cakir is named. Sultan Haydar in the women 10 000 m without standard will wait on the decision of technical delegates. Three relays are named, men 4x100 m and 4x400 m and women 4x400 m.

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