2019 Bydgoszcz Diary: The European Team Championships Super League

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20190808_191705.jpgPoster for 2019 European Team Championships Super League, Bydgoszcz, Poland

Stuart Weir has gone to Bydgoszcz, Poland, for the European Team Championships Super League, which is being held August 09-11, 2019. Stuart has been covering the world of athletics for us for many years now. I hope to join him at the Match in Minsk, Belarus, and then, Doha, Qatar.

The European Team Championships: Super League, photo by Stuart Weir

In 1989 , the European Cup was held in Gateshead, in Northern England. The first event on Friday night was the men's 400m hurdles and when Kriss Akabusi powered home to give the hosts the points it was an omen as GB were to win the men's European Cup. That was a feat that we repeated in 1997, 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2008.

Then in 2008, it was decided to change the competition, combining men and women and dividing into four divisions with 20 events for men and 20 for women in a combined match - with promotion and relegation between the divisions. There would be 12 countries in the Super League.

20190808_172053.jpg2019 Poster, Bydgoszcz , Poland, photo by Stuart Weir

This will be my fourth European Team Championships, as it became known in 2008, having been to Gateshead in 2013, Cheboksary, Russia 2015, Lille, France 2017 and now Bydgoszcz in Poland. As you will see from the venues the event does not go to capital cities but to smaller cities, often with a track and field tradition. Cheboksary was an absolute nightmare to get to. A 4 hour drive to the nearest Airport and then a flight to Moscow before one felt one was heading for home! That said, the locals loved the fact that their city was hosting an international event. One of the volunteers actually slept in the lobby of the media hotel in order to ensure that I got my early morning flight.

Bydgoszcz is the eighth largest city in Poland with a population of 350,000. The city calls itself the capital of Polish athletics having hosted the IAAF World Youth Championships, the World Junior Championships, the World Cross CountryCchampionships and the European U23 Championships.

Sadly, the event has lost its status compared to 1989 when European champion, Kriss Akabusi, was in the victorious British team. This year many of our top athletes have chosen not to make themselves available for the event. That never bothers me because it means that our second or third best athlete gets the chance to compete at an international event and you have athletes competing who want to be there.

20190808_192829.jpgThe host stadium in Bydgoszcz, Poland, photo by Stuart Weir

In 2017 Germany won from Poland and France with Britain fourth one point behind France. The format is effectively 1 point gained for every competitor you beat. This means that in the grand scheme of things the battle for fifth place can be just as important as who wins an event. Rather than a "win or bust" attitude it's all about how many points an athlete can accumulate. The winning country equally is not the one to win most events but the one to score points consistently across the 40 disciplines. In past years, there were two races in the shorter events with points awarded according to time. This year we will have to heats and a final to decide the placings.

So now you understand how the event is organized. But would you believe it, they have decided to change the format again and starting in 2021 (the next time it is contested), the Super League will consist of only eight countries.

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