Records broken even before the starter’s gun is fired

European Athletics U23 Championships - Tampere 2013
European Athletics

Pavel Maslak, Adam Gemili, Sanni Utrianen and Attu Kangas (L-R) display t-shirts supporting European Athletics anti-doping education campaign during the official press conference ahead of the 2013 European Athletics U23 Championships in Tampere, Finland, on Wednesday. (Getty Images) 

The ninth European Athletics U23 Championships’ press conference took place at the intimate Tampere stadium overlooking the waters of Ratinan Suvanto with President Hansjörg Wirz emphasising the records that have already been broken even before the action starts.

“We started in 1997 with this championships and this is the ninth edition and with almost 1,000 (997) athletes and the highest number of federations present (45) this championships is already a success story,” said Wirz.

President Wirz went on to explain the rationale behind the creation of the U23 category. “It is not an easy step to make the transition from Junior to Senior and that is why we created this intermediate stage.

“Athletes do not only have to train for this level, they also need to compete and that is why this championship is a success going forward. And we are very happy to give that opportunity which for most athletes is an important step in their career."

But it is not only about competing at the top level, it is also learning how to compete fairly, continued the President: “That is a part of what we are doing here.”

European Athletics Director General Christian Milz went on to explain that since 2007 European Athletics has been carrying out the important European Athletics Anti-doping Education Programme: “It is a key fight,” he said. “Here and in Rieti for the European Athletics Junior championships, the programme will be organised on the sidelines of the championships in our battle to increase the fight against doping.

"We search for cheating athletes through doping controls but we must also promote awareness, knowledge and prevention among young athletes."

The four athletes present at the press conference (Pavel Maslak, Adam Gemili, Sanni Utriainen, Arttu Kangas) displayed the t-shirts especially made for this initiative.

Milz reinforced the developmental point of the under-23 championships by pointing out some outstanding athletes who have succeeded at this level before achieving greater things by subsequently winning Olympic or world titles: Christian Olsson (2001), Yelena Isinbayeva (2003), and most recently, David Storl, who took shot put gold in Ostrava 2011 before going on to Daegu to lift the world crown later that summer, not forgetting Olympic silver in London.

“These championships are being broadcast in four countries: Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands and Spain. But there is also live streaming on the European Athletics website (http://eurovision.digotel.com/ea/index.html),” confirmed Milz. "Ticket sales have also been going well with 50 percent already sold at attractive family pricing."

Local Organising Committee President Perttu Resä wished to expand a warm welcome to not only the record number of athletes, but also the volunteers and the crowd that will all play a part in writing the stories that will make these championships a success.