Let’s face it, I love European athletics. European Athletics had a fantastic year. What is amazing to me, is how European Athletics is both looking into the future and caring about the present. Like any federation, EAA has its challenges, but what I admire is that they are actually trying to change things for the better. Here is the review of 2018:
This is the first of two parts of our alphabetical reflection on a memorable season of athletics featuring highlights from the Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships, European Athletics U18 Championships in Gyor, SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Tilburg and the Golden Tracks in Lausanne.
A is for Awards
Lausanne was home for this year’s Golden Track Award Ceremony as once more the stars of European athletics were honoured at the annual night of celebration in October. After a look back on the amazing moments of 2018, the Athletes of the Year were announced, with Kevin Mayer and Dina Asher-Smith winning the senior titles. Armand Duplantis and Jakob Ingebrigtsen were jointly named male Rising Stars as Belarus’ Elvira Herman was named women’s Rising Star.
B is for Berlin
No superlatives can properly describe the Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships. A momentous occasion as the track and field programme was part of the first multi-sports European Championships in conjunction with Glasgow. It was a roaring success, with every session in Berlin nail biting, packed with incredible stories and emotions at the highest.
— European Athletics (@EuroAthletics) August 13, 2018
C is for Championship records
Eleven championship records were set at those championships in Berlin with four of those coming on the final day: 2:09:51 for Koen Naert in the marathon, 14:46.12 for Sifan Hassan in the 5000m, 78.94m for Anita Wlodarczyk in the hammer and 6.05m for Armand Duplantis in the pole vault.
D is for Dina
Great Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith took her sprinting career to a new level by winning at hat-trick of gold medals in Berlin – retaining her 200m title after glory in the 100m and before success in the 4x100m relay. In the individual events, she lowered her British records by running 10.85 and 21.89 respectively. She ends the year as joint world-leader in the 100m and outright world-leader in the 200m and 4x100m with the British team.
E is for Elvira
Powering out of lane three, Elvira Herman ran the race of her life to win the 100m hurdles title in Berlin. Two seasons earlier she had been crowned the world U20 champion in Bydgoszcz and now at the age of 21, she had the senior title in spectacular fashion in Berlin, a success which brought the Rising Star honour in Lausanne, the first Belarusian to win an award at the Golden Tracks ceremony.
F is for Flying
That is just what Swedish teenager Armand Duplantis did in 2018, Nobody could have predicted the impact Duplantis would have on the world of athletics in 2018, let alone the European Championships. The Swedish sensation had already took the world indoor U20 record to 5.88m and in Berlin, he won gold with 6.05m, to tie him equal second outdoors on the world all-time list. And he has only just turned 19.
G is Gyor
The second edition of the European Athletics U18 Championships was staged in the Hungarian city between July 5-8 and the stars of tomorrow put down their markers, with Great Britain topping the table with nine medals (6-2-1). Maria Vicente and Sarah Healy were among the stars to emerge, winning two individual gold medals apiece.
H is for History
Not only did Kevin Mayer put the disappointment of Berlin to the back of his mind, he recovered to sensationally smash Ashton Eaton’s world record of 9045 by scoring 9126 points at the Decastar Meeting in Talence in September. And talk about perfection – Mayer scored the same points total on each day, 4563, and his performance on the Sunday was, by more than 100 points, the largest second-day score in decathlon history.
I is for the Ingebrigtsens
A year which Norway’s most famous athletics family will never, forget. Jakob, 17 at the time, was phenomenal as he won the 1500m and 5000m crowns in Berlin, with performances packed with confidence and ability that defied his tender years. In the second of those races, eldest brother Henrik, 27, won silver and then at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Tilburg this month, Filip, 25, won the senior men’s crown. Just what will 2019 bring?
J is for Javelin
And especially the competition which stole the show at the European Throwing Cup in Leiria in March. Johannes Vetter first broke the event record with 85.58m in the third round before improving to 92.70m just two rounds later. It proved to be the longest throw of 2018, with only his German teammates also breaking the 90m barrier. Andreas Hofmann threw 92.06m in June while Thomas Rohler, who progressed to become European champion, had reached 91.78m in May.
K is for Karsten
Having won the world title in London the previous year, could Norway’s Karsten Warholm deliver again in the 400m hurdles? The answer to the question came on a record-breaking evening in Berlin on 9 August as not only did he win gold once more, his victory came in a time of 47.64, breaking the European U23 and national marks.
L is for London
The Parliament Hill Athletics Track in north-west London staged the European 10,000m Cup for the first time on 19 May. It was held in conjunction with the Night of the 10,000 PBs meeting and such was the success, the event is returning there next year. Germany’s Richard Ringer and Israel’s Lonah Chemtai Salpeter won the ‘A’ races at one of the most popular fixtures on the British athletics calendar.
M is for Mud
The wonderful end to the year in the mud of Tilburg for the SPAR European Cross Country Championships on a course where rain made it one of the toughest the 25 stagings of the competition. It was a brilliant spectacle and Turkey’s Yasemin Can and Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen both made it three titles in a row in their respective events.