European Athletics President Wirz proclaims Bergen 2010 a resounding success

European Athletics President Hansjörg Wirz has expressed his delight following the successful second edition of the SPAR European Team Championships in Bergen, Norway, over the weekend.

“After two days of wonderful competition, I can safely proclaim that the 2010 SPAR European Team Championships were a resounding success. Bergen 2010 has proved that we are heading in the right direction with the championships that have quickly become one of the world’s premier team events,” said Wirz.

In order to enhance the appeal of certain track and field disciplines for spectators and television viewers, European Athletics further fine-tuned event regulations after the inaugural edition in Leiria, Portugal, in 2009.

The elimination lap in the 3000m, 5000m and 3000m steeplechase was cancelled for 2010, while in field events each athlete was allowed a minimum three trials (12+12+12+4) compared to two in the past.

“I am very glad to say that this year everything worked out perfectly fine,” said Wirz of the innovative competition that also has men and women compete as one team, promotion and relegation battles between the four new leagues, and a European “league table” that ranks teams from Nos. 1 to 50.

“The unpredictability of a team's performance, the national pride felt and shown as countries compete against their rivals, and the drama of the revamped regulations made for compelling viewing throughout the weekend,” said Wirz.

“We have shown once again our leadership in adapting our sport to make sure it maintains its appeal for spectators, TV viewers, media and athletes now and in the future,” said Wirz.

Russia were crowned European Team Champions after winning the 12-team top league ahead of Great Britain and 2009 champions Germany.

The First League in Budapest, Hungary, saw Czech Republic Sweden and Portugal promoted to the SPAR-sponsored top league for 2011 in place of Greece, Norway and Finland, while in Belgrade, Serbia, the Swiss and Croatian teams claimed the two top spots to replace Estonia and Lithuania in the First League.

Denmark and Bulgaria were promoted from the Third League in Marsa, Malta, and replace relegated Moldova and Israel in the Second League.

The third edition of the SPAR European Team Championships will be organised in Stockholm, Sweden, in 2011.

Toralf Nilsson, the president of the Local Organising Committee of Stockholm 2011, said, “We are very happy that Sweden earned promotion to the Super League after finishing second in the First League in Budapest. We are very excited about hosting the next SPAR European Team Championships and are eagerly waiting to welcome the best athletes from the 12 top nations in Europe in Stockholm next year.”