European Athletics President Svein Arne Hansen visited the Magyar Atlétikai Szovetség – the Hungarian athletics federation – on Friday to discuss the state of the sport in one of European Athletics’ most senior Member Federations.
The visit was of particular pertinence with the 2018 European Athletics U18 Championships being staged in the western Hungarian city in Győr.
“Hungary has a fantastic athletics history, having been one of the original nine participating nations in the Olympic Games back in 1896. Consequently, it’s always a pleasure to visit a country which has given so much to the sport and to discuss how we can move forward with new developments,” said President Hansen.
“I was very happy to hear that preparations are going well for the 2018 European Athletics U18 Championships and I congratulate the Hungarian federation and Local Organising Committee on the excellent work that they have done so far.
“The European Athletics U18 Championships is the newest edition to the European Athletics events portfolio and has a huge importance as it is an ideal starting point for talented teenage athletes to gain experience and international exposure before advancing through the other age-group competitions.
“This event also completes a circle with Hungary being the first Member Federation to have staged all the age-group championships in Europe,” reflected President Hansen, who was visiting the MAS offices for the first time in his current role.
Hungary staged the 1966 and 1998 European Athletics Championships, 1995 European Athletics U20 Championships and 2007 European Athletics U23 Championships.
In addition, Hungary was the host of the 1983 and 1988 European Athletics Indoor Championships as well as, most recently, the 2012 SPAR European Cross Country Championships.
President Hansen, accompanied by European Athletics Council Member and MAS General Secretary Márton Gyulai, also met with Hungary’s Deputy Secretary of State for Youth and Sports Péter Sárfalvi.
“It was a very productive meeting. Top of the agenda was the need for improved indoor athletics facilities in Hungary and we also talked about the challenges facing athletics, in Hungary specifically and Europe in general,” commented President Hansen.
“We had an excellent dialogue helped by the fact that Secretary of State understands these challenges very well, having been a world-class sportsman himself and having won world and European titles in modern pentathlon.
“The Hungary federation has big ambitions to stage further major athletics events in the coming decade and beyond, and government support will be vital,” he added.
During his time in the Hungarian capital, President Hansen also participated in a question-and-answer session with the local media and was interviewed on Hungarian state television.