This is Stuart Weirs’ first column on the 2022 European Athletics Championships. He will be writing two piece or so a day from the media stands in Munich. I will be managing the Live Blog for the Munich 2022 Athletics Champs. To learn more about that, please go to: https://www.european-athletics.com/live-blog
The European Championships are taking place in Munich at the moment, the biggest sports event in Germany since the 1972 Summer Olympics. Yes, it is 50 years since the Munich Olympics.
11-21 August 2022, European sport is uniting as its best athletes compete for the highest accolade of their sport on the continent – the title of ‘European Champion’. The second edition of the combined European Championships features nine Olympic sports: Athletics, Beach Volleyball, Canoe Sprint, Cycling, Gymnastics, Rowing, Sport Climbing, Table Tennis, and Triathlon. The Athletics starts Monday 15 August.
Sandra Perkovic told the press conference: “I have won the European title five times. I know the Germans are very strong – I need to beat them so I can achieve six golds. Competing in the Olympic stadium is always special. It’s nice to change the stadium – but the medals are the same! I hope the crowd will help me achieve my goals and I think I can give them more than they will expect.
Jake Wightman, World Champion at 1500, will run the shorter distance in Munich: “Coming here and doing an 800m is something I’m excited to do. I hope I can still do all right because I’ve never really had a chance to run an 800m at a championship before and I want to show I can be competitive over this distance as well as at 1500m. If I had to do the 1500m here I wouldn’t have come. The 800m to me is like a real refresh”.
He also hinted that this might not be his only championship 800. “Next year I get a wildcard to go to the World Athletics Championships next year to do the 1500m, so I’d love to see if I can get into the GB 800m trials next year. I’ve always wanted to add the 800m to the 1500m, but the way my championships go I have to do the 1500m there and that is always the priority.
“But I feel I’ve already run a respectable time over the 800m and my aim for the season is to run another good time and hopefully try and medal. We’ve had a pretty long-standing Scottish record over 800m; Tom McKean ran 1:43.88. And I think I have the ability to hopefully do that at some point and that would be a nice way to round off my season”.
Femke Bol is another who likes doubling up as she is in the 400 flat and the 400h this week. “I’m pretty excited,” said Bol, who won the European indoor 400m title in Torun last year, before taking Olympic 400m hurdles bronze in Tokyo. “It’s quite a challenge, but I feel good so I can really push for it and try to do it. I think the timetable will help, with the 400m flat first. It’s a closer event in terms of PBs and it’s a harder event for me at the moment.
“I’m used to the rhythm of the 400m hurdles, with the barriers to guide me. In the flat 400m I have to feel how I am going to run. Going out of my comfort zone to do that event first and then returning to the 400m hurdles is the best way round for me.”
For Bol, the historical inspiration will be attempting to follow in the footsteps of another all-time sporting great from the Netherlands. At the 1950 European Championships in Brussels, Fanny Blankes-Koen attempted a hurdles and flat combination, winning the 100m, 200m, and 80m hurdles, winning all three – and claiming a silver in the 4x100m relay for good measure.
“She is one of the greatest athletes in the Netherlands’ history, and we have our FBK Games in Hengelo named after her,” said Bol.
“The 400m and the 400m hurdles is a hard double. I’m not sure if I will do it any more in my life, but I have the chance to do it right now…”