Records expected to be broken at Budapest 2012 SPAR European Cross Country Championships | 08.12.2012
Preparations for Sunday's event were hit when Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport was closed on Friday because of technical problems, but Vice President Pilný and European Athletics Director General explained that all 35 teams were accounted for as being already in Budapest or on their way to the Hungarian capital in time for the event.
"I have followed the progress of the Budapest 2012 SPAR European Cross Country Championships since I was part of the Evaluation Commission for the right to host the event, so I have followed very closely the journey of the local organising committee. At the last moment, they were put to the test and I am happy to say that we have all the teams accounted for in time for tomorrow's event.
"According to the final entries, there are 539 athletes (221 women + 318 men), with 35 Member Federations competing," said Pilný, who attended the press conference in place of President Hansjörg Wirz, unable to attend due to the airport problems. "The current record number of competitors is the 468 athletes that started at the 2006, 2008 and 2010 SPAR European Cross Country Championships.
"The previous highest number of countries to participate in the SPAR European Cross Country Championships was 34 nations that made the trip to the town of Albufeira on Portugal's Algarve coast in 2010."
"Including the athletes and everyone else, there are more than 1,500 people accredited for this event."
Director General Milz expanded on the cooperation between European Athletics and the local organising committee in reacting to the events on Friday.
"The LOC and European Athletics cooperated amazingly, did a great job, with most of the teams transported by bus from Bratislava and Vienna to Budapest. All the 35 countries are here now, I am sure that on Sunday we will have a wonderful event."
Milz also talked of the great preparation cross country prepares for a career in track and field, giving examples of some famous names who have been served well by a grounding in the discipline.
"Great Britain’s Mo Farah, double Olympic champion in the 5000m and 10,000m, won the silver medal at the Dublin 2009 SPAR European Cross Country Championships," said Milz. "Alistair Brownlee, London 2012 Olympic triathlon champion, finished 48th in the under-23s race at the Dublin 2009 SPAR European Cross Country Championships.
"And, of course, Sebastian Coe is a well-known advocate of the importance of cross country running in the development of middle and long distance runners. He himself was regional cross country champion at a young age."
Also attending the press conference were Miklos Gyulai, President of the Hungarian Atheltics Association and the Local Organising Committee, Dr. Istvan Simicsko, State Secretary for Sports, and Dr Miklos Cseri, Co-President of the LOC and Director of the Skanzen Open Air Museum.
Preident Gyulai said, "I would like to say thank you to all my colleagues and European Athletics staff for their hard work in the last 24 hours because of the lockdown of the Ferenc Liszt International Airport. They did their best to solve the problems and now everything is alright and on Sunday there is going to be a successful championships.
"2012 was a very good and successful year for Hungarian athletics and we hope that the championships will be a great end of the year.
This is an important event: the Hungarian Association would like to reach more and more people, especially kids. Not too long ago, the Kids Programme, a wonderful programme, was introduced in schools ... we want to build on this event."