This is the final article by Stuart Weir on the European team championships, and I am enjoying this one immensely.
Final thoughts on the European Team Championships
Only in track!
When Belgian sprint hurdler Anna Zagre got injured and had to withdraw from the race, it seemed a problem, but in stepped the team’s shot putter, Joleon Boumkwo, using a rarely used technique, she walked between hurdles stepping over them. She finished 32.81. OK, the winner, Pia Skrzyszowska’s winning time was 12.77, but Boumkwo still earned a point for her country.
Watch the race at https://twitter.com/i/status/1672640946163404803
Application of the rules
On day 1 in the 100m, there were clear false starts in the 100m. Yellow and green cards were shown. Ok, I thought, just like the Decathlon/Heptathlon, where there is leniency for a false start, they are applying a different rule here. All very sensible. Then in the hurdles, Ditaji Kambundji jumps the gun and is DQed. What is going on?
In the sprint relays, there were seven DQs. Over-zealous application of the rules? GB was DQed in both, and the loss of 25-30 points – 0 points for DQ against an anticipated 25-30 points for two good finishes – kept GB out of the medals.
Joleon Boumkwo, on outside of hurdlers, photo by European Athletics
Surely a time penalty rather than DQ would be better for a competition of this kind.
And something I have said before, we embarrass ourselves by allowing teams to go through the mixed zone and talk about their excellent race only to be DQed long after they have gone.
Where does the event fit?
I had a chat with the GB Technical Direction, who supports the Team Champions but raises the fundamental question: “Where is its place in a very congested calendar?
European Athletics probably needs to look at that: where does it fit in a congested calendar? If you look at all the top nations, we have all struggled to put full-strong teams out. If that’s the goal of the competition, then it’s going to be very difficult to attain that, particularly as Diamond Leagues get bigger and the Continental Gold meets get bigger”. But he adds: “But you look at the buzz in the GB team though, and the youngsters that have come into the team, and you would say it has a place.”
Jade Ive pole-vaulted to two PRs, and for Maguire, that is a great example of the positives in the event: “If you were, to sum up the competition, European Team Championships, it’s probably that – you’re giving people opportunities, and Jade went out and delivered. Tremendous performance. Anybody who can compete like that on their first international gets a PB; hats off to them”.
Amateur or professional?
Ekaterina Stefanidi told me: “We are professional athletes, and we should be paid to compete here”, a view that resonates with Maguire: “Absolutely. And I think you know, I would agree with that. Athletes should be rewarded as professional people, and I think if we’re serious about enhancing the quality of competition with the best athletes, they deserve to be paid. I’m absolutely passionate about that”.
Too many athletes in races.
With 16 athletes – one each from 16 countries – the shorter races were run in two heats. One 800m runner told me how lovely it was to run a race of 8 athletes when so many modern races have 2 athletes to a lane and pacemakers. On the other hand, Ellie Baker of GB was one of the favorites in the women’s 1500. She was running well until she was clipped three times from behind – well three times that I saw – and lost all momentum. 16 is just too many in 1500.
The lack of spectators was a massive disappointment, with hardly more than 5.000 – in a 50,000 seater stadium in total over the 3 days. For all that on the one day (Saturday) when I left the venue by car, we were caught up in a massive traffic jam. More cars than people?
It is striking how much athletes like relays. Watching athletes hugging, taking team photos, selfies, etc, just proves the point.