27 Jul 2017

Arrivederci Grosseto! European Athletics U20 Championships a great success

The American writer Mark Twain popularised the phrase ‘Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics’ but with regards to the Grosseto 2017 European Athletics U20 Championships it’s the statistics that actually demonstrate some of the truth about how successful the championships were.

Of course, statistics don’t provide a picture of the wonderful atmosphere in and around the Stadio Claudio Zecchini with athletes, their families and friends from all the competing nations cheering each other on, and celebrating or commiserating with each other.

Image credit: European Athletics
Image credit: European Athletics

Certainly the outstanding Tuscany weather and picturesque surroundings of the host city helped the mood as well.

However, what will stand out in years to come will also be the quality of performances.

No less than two world U20 records were set, subject to ratification, and both came on the final day to bring the championships to a fitting climax.

Germany's Niklas Kaul put together a stunning tally of 8435 points in the decathlon, a triumph clinched with a personal best by more than six seconds in the 1500m at the end of two gruelling days highlighted by three other personal bests.

His compatriots Katrin Fehm, Keshia Kwadwo, Sophia Junk and Jennifer Montag had slickly got the baton round the track in the 4x100m heats in 43.27 earlier in the afternoon, taking 0.02 off a mark set by the USA in 2006, and although the same quartet were slightly slower in the final, they still won the gold by more than half-a-second.

Image credit: European Athletics
Image credit: European Athletics

Take a bow Belarus’ Maksim Nedasekau, Sweden’s Armand Duplantis and Ukraine’s Hlib Piskunov, who went into new territory in the high jump, pole vault and hammer respectively.

In the case of Nedasekau and Duplantis, the pair improved on marks set more than a decade before they were born.

No less than 30 of European Athletics’ 51 Member Federations were among the medals in Grosseto, 19 of them striking gold, demonstrating the impact of the sport across the continent among the generation born in the last years of the 20th century.

In terms of individual medals, the male and female performers of the championships were Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen and Great Britain’s Maya Bruney.

Bruney improved her personal best through all three rounds of the 200m before taking gold in 23.04 and then contributed to Great Britain taking bronze medals in both women’s relay’s so becoming the only person to climb the podium three times in Grosseto.

Image credit: European Athletics
Image credit: European Athletics

History tell us that many of the winners and medallists in Grosseto will be among the top three again at the 2019 European Athletics U23 Championships, which will be held in the Swedish city of Gävle.

However, the prodigious Norwegian is still only 16 and with a 2000 birthdate he will be eligible to compete at the next European Athletics U20 Championships in 2019.

The only other champion in Grosseto young enough to defend their title in two years’ time was Switzerland’s 3000m winner Delia Schlabas.

However, in the meantime, the next generation of talented European teenage athlete will emerge and take aim at qualifying for the next European Athletics U20 Championships, with event being hosted by another Swedish city, Borås.