FBK Games is here to stay

Fanny Blankers-Koen
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Fanny Blankers-Koen, far right, of the Netherlands competes during the 1948 Olympic Games in London, England.

The Fanny Blankers-Koen (FBK) Games, the Dutch athletics meeting, will continue after the council of the city of Hengelo voted unanimously against selling the stadium where it is held to football club FC Twente.

The FBK Games, the next edition of which will take place on 7 June 2014 as part of the IAAF World Challenge, is considered the most important athletics event in the Netherlands. 

The executive board of the city of Hengelo had proposed to sell the athletics stadium to FC Twente in order to save the municipality money.

This would have meant the end of the FBK Games.

However the cooperation of an additional sponsor was decisive for the council to finally vote unanimously against selling the stadium.

Since 1981 the FBK Games have been organised annually in Hengelo.

The meeting is named after Fanny Blankers-Koen, regarded as the best Dutch athlete of all time after winning four gold medals at the 1948 Olympic Games in London.

Over the course of its history, numerous world records have been set at the FBK Games.

The current 5,000m world record of 12:37.35 set by Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele was run in Hengelo back in 2004.

Many athletes and former athletes supported the FBK Games in their fight over the last few months, including Haile Gebrselassie, also known as ‘Mr. Hengelo.’

After hearing the news Gebrselassie expressed his satisfaction via his Twitter account:

"Congratulations Hengelo for continuing your World Record competition! Good luck for the future!" he tweeted.

European Athletics President Hansjörg Wirz and Sebastian Coe were among those who wrote letters to the municipality in support of retaining the athletics stadium and meeting.

"I urge you to keep the legacy of athletics alive in Hengelo," Lord Coe wrote. "The FBK Games are synonymous with my sport and the closure of the stadium and the Games would be a blow to European and world athletics."

The FBK Games would have been a great loss to the Dutch athletics community considering the European Athletics Championships will take place in Amsterdam in 2016.