GBR 4 x 100m, Bianca Williams to Des Henry, photo by European Athletics
This is a series on the European team championships. It is one of Stuart’s favorite events, yet he does not think it gets the support it deserves. It revolves around a busy calendar and the need to find a new sponsor to build up the financial support.
Check out the event, see what you think.
The European Team Championships
The European Team Championships traces its history back to 1965 when it was formed as the European Cup. It became the European Team Championships in 2009. It currently has 4 divisions with the top division called The Super League. Each year the bottom countries in each division are relegated to be replaced by the winner of the league below. The competition has tended to be dominated by Russia – now banned from participation – leaving as the most successful in recent years. Poland, with a home advantage, won in 2019.
The format is simple 18 individual events for men and 18 individual events for women plus 4 by 100 and 4 by 400 relays, making 40 events in all. One athlete from each country competing in each event with effectively one point for the team for each athlete defeated. All the end, the team with the most points wins and the team with the least points drops down to the league below for next time.
The EA team Men’s 1,500m, photo by European Athletics
A bit like the World Relays, it is an excellent concept but has struggled to find a place in the crowded athletics schedule. As a result, few “top” athletes participate – either because it does not fit their schedule in a championship year or indeed because they prefer to participate in Diamond League or Continental Cup events with prize money at stake.
Katarina Stefanidi, who was in the Greek team in 2019, told me that she enjoyed the opportunity to compete for her country but she added that she was a professional athlete and she believed European Athletics was wrong to expect athletes to participate without being paid. As a result, teams often comprise athletes just short of absolute elite status. That said, for many of those athletes, the opportunity to compete for their country in an international competition is either a career highlight to a stepping stone to greater things.
It is an event that I enjoy, having attended in 2013 in Gateshead, 2015 in Cheboksary (Russia), 2017 in Lille (France), 2019 in Bydgoszcz (Poland). For the second time in succession the event is being held in Poland, this time in Chorzow, Silesia where the World Relays were held but sadly this year, UK Covid restrictions make it impossible for me to travel.
At the end of Day 1, the competition was on a knife-edge
1 Great Britain 95
2 Poland 94.5
3 Germany 93.5
4 Italy 87
5 France 83.5
6 Spain 81
7 Portugal 48.5
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