Lille Diaries: European Team Championships go to Germany, by J. Stuart Weir

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DSCN0157.JPGA nice crowd at Lille, photo by J. Stuart Weir

Stuart Weir visited Lille, France, and wrote about the European team championships. A Scotsmann in France, isn't that the title of a Mark Twain short story (if not, should be)?Anyway, here's Stu's sterling observations on the meet. Nice pictures too!

DSCN0156.JPGThe nice crowd in Lille, France, by J. Stuart Weir

European Team Championships

English soccer star, Gary Lineker, used to say: "Football [soccer] is a game played by 22 players for 90 minutes and in the end Germany wins. European Athletics is a bit like that. My first*day report had a photo of the scoreboard with GB winning. It didn't last.

In the end Germany won comfortably.

Germany 321.5

Poland 295

France 270

Great Britain 269.

The bottom two were Netherlands and Belarus who will drop into the second division along with, as I understand it, Russia.

Germany won five events: Pamela Dutkiewicz (women's 100H 12.75), Claudia Salman-Rath (long jump 6.66), Konstanze Klosterhalfen (1500 4.09.57), Robert Harting (discus 66.30), Max Hess (TJ 17.02).

Poland had an excellent second day with Pawel Fajek winning the hammer throw with 78.29 and three fouls. Kamila Licwinko won the women's high jump with 1.97 and Poland took both 4 by 400 relays (women 3:27.60 and men 3:03.86).

Going into the final event - the men's 4 by 400 - Britain led France by three points. For Britain with its strong tradition of 4 by 400 relay running it was unthinkable that we would finish behind the French - let alone 4 places behind.

Britain with a young and inexperienced line-up did just that - finishing 4 places behind France - ninth out of eleven teams! The shame and disgrace of it - finishing behind the French! On Saturday Britain won six events; on Sunday six less! With the GB Championships and World Championship selection Trials taking place next week, who can blame athletes for opting out of the event - or for being part of the event but not wanting to run on three races in three days.

The event was well run - apart from the trigger happy starter. The stadium was just the right size for the event and produced a great atmosphere. While individual performances were important, the fact that it was a team event gave it an extra dimension, with athletes talking about wanting to get points for their country. It also meant that every place mattered which led to sprint finishes - not for victory but for an extra point. And the team score which was updated promptly on the scoreboard was easy for everyone to understand.

Finally I need to correct an error in yesterday's report. The rule for high jumpers and pole vaulters was a maximum of 4 failures, which denied some jumpers a third attempt at a height.

*Saturday was the first full day but was actually the second day as there were heats on Friday night.

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