According to the preliminary entries, 998 athletes (463 men and 535 women) representing 48 Member Federations are due to compete at the second edition of the European Athletics U18 Championships in Gyor, Hungary from 5-8 July.
Many athletes will be making a return visit to Gyor twelve months after the Hungarian city staged the 2017 European Youth Olympic Festival when athletics was one of eight sports to make up the programme. The Netherland topped the medal table in the athletics programme with seven gold medals ahead of France and Finland with four gold medals apiece.
Some of the outstanding individual performers at those championships included Ukrainians Yaroslava Mahuchikh (high jump) and Myhaylo Kokhan (hammer) who won titles in Gyor a fortnight after winning their respective events at the IAAF World U18 Championships in Nairobi. Spain’s Maria Vicente won the triple jump title in Gyor after winning heptathlon gold in Nairobi while the Netherlands’ Zoe Sedney took an unusual double, winning titles in both the 100m hurdles and 200m in Gyor.
But for other athletes, the European Athletics U18 Championships - which are open to athletes born in either 2001 and 2002 - will represent their first taste of international competition. The championships were held for the first time in the Georgian capital city of Tbilisi two years ago when Great Britain topped the medal table with five gold medals and 14 in total.
The depth of European athletics was on show in Tbilisi as 22 Member Federations won gold medals and 30 Member Federations came away with medals. Ukraine’s precocious multi-eventer Alina Shukh was one of the exceptional performers, winning gold in the heptathlon with a world U18 record of 6175 points while Greece’s exciting pole vaulting prospect Emmanouil Karalis cleared 5.45m in windy conditions to claim the first gold medal of his career.
Shukh was one of six athletes to follow up their gold medals at the European U18 Championships in 2016 with titles the following year at the European Athletics U20 Championships in Grosseto, Italy. The championships could provide a useful formguide ahead of next year's edition of the European U20 Championships which will take place in Boras, Sweden.
The European U18 Championships will be held at the Radnoti Street Sports Centre and the city itself, which is Hungary’s sixth largest by population, will provide a splendid backdrop to the championships. Visitors in their free time can enjoy sights that include the Bishops Castle, which contains the 15th-century Gothic Doczy Chapel, as well as a number of well-preserved squares adorned by historic monuments.