As part of our ongoing series, we have interviewed members of the European Athletics Young Leaders Youth Team. They were all nominated by their federations to take part in the most recent Young Leaders Forum in Amsterdam, held in conjunction with the 2016 European Athletics Championships, and are all recognised as potential leaders of our sport in years to come.
The European Athletics Young Leaders Community is a platform for active young and ambitious people who are interested in developing work and life skills, getting involved in community service and making new friends.
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
My name is Mikkel Hansen and I live in Copenhagen. In 2017 I finished my education in Sport Management - as a top-up on Marketing Management.
I have been involved in athletics for as long as I can remember. I started in 1999 as a little kid and since then, it has been a journey with a lot of great experiences I will never forget. In most of these years I have been a middle and long distance runner, and I have run every distance from 800m up to marathon. However, I have lacked of motivation over the last two or three years but my coaching - and especially my Young Leader role - has kept me in the sport and I believe that my future will be in athletics.
How did you become involved with the European Athletics Young Leaders Community?
In 2014 I was the Danish representative at the European Athletics Young Leaders Forum in Zurich. At that moment I was part of the Kids and Youth Council in Denmark and that was the beginning of a journey which is still ongoing.
After the Forum, I joined the Future Group which assisted European Athletics with the platform: Athletics Community. Again in 2016, I joined the Young Leaders Forum but this time as facilitator.
What is your favourite thing about athletics?
What I really like about athletics is that you can always be a part of it; there are so many different opportunities on the track as well as around the sport. Athletics should be an education for every child because it gives kids the perfect chance to improve their motoric skills.
Who is your athletics hero and why?
In some way I have a lot of heroes in the sport. I especially like the ones who are giving back to the sport in many different aspects but also athletes who act as ambassadors for the sport and make it more interesting for people outside the world of athletics.
But heroes in my opinion are not only found on the track but also in the leading positions, as well as all the volunteers around the world who support athletics every day.
Which areas of the sport are you particularly interested in?
There are many aspects I am very interested in. I like the marketing part of the sport, especially social media. I also enjoy the competitions and I would like to develop this area so athletics will be even more interesting for people who are not into athletics.
One of my biggest interests in athletics is actually the politics and if I can mix that with the Young Leaders area I am involved in at the moment, it could be even better - maybe a Youth Council in European Athletics?
If you could change one aspect of the sport, what would you change and why?
Not “if” - because we can all change aspects of the sport! There are many good aspects in athletics which just need to be developed so it fits to the specific moment and the different target groups.
But what I really want the most is to make the Young Leaders have a bigger impact on the sport. We are the future as well as the moment right now! We are really motivated to make a difference in many aspects.
Where do you see yourself within the sport in ten years’ time?
I am ninety-nine percent sure I will be involved in athletics. I will hopefully do many of the things I am doing already now but maybe also be involved on a higher scale - maybe with European Athletics.
What has been your highlight of Young Leaders so far?
I don’t have a single highlight. Every time I spend time with other motivated Young Leaders, it gives me so much energy, so it is a highlight every time.
For example, when I attended the Young Leaders Forum in Zurich; or when I was one of the facilitators in Amsterdam and interviewed Sebastian Coe, Jenny Meadows, Andreas Thorkildsen and Rens Blom in front of 60 Young Leaders; or when I was supporting European Athletics with the launching of “I Run Clean” at the European Athletics U23 Championships in Bydgoszcz and the European Athletics U20 Championships in Grosseto.
So shortest answer is: my biggest highlight is every time I spend time with motivated Young Leaders and develop athletics together.