After Tbilisi in 2016 and Gyor in 2018, the third edition of the European Athletics U18 Championships will now take place in the Italian town of Rieti in 2021.
The competition was originally scheduled to take place from 16-19 July 2020 in Rieti but was postponed in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has severely affected Italy. The date of the competition in the summer of 2021 is still to be confirmed.
"The (European Athletics) Council felt strongly that in these difficult times it was important to support this age category and give them the opportunity to compete with their peers from across Europe at the very highest level. We also wanted to send our support the local organising committee in Rieti and to Italy which has been so badly affected by this coronavirus outbreak.
“It is also important in these difficult times that we send a strong signal to all athletes and the wider athletics community, that our sport must continue and that we are still planning on hosting our championships for them to compete in," commented European Athletics Interim President Dobromir Karamarinov after the Council confirmed Rieti would now play host to this competition in 2021.
With a capacity for 5000 spectators, the Raul Guidobaldi Stadium in Rieti - which has a Mondotrack surface manufactured and installed by the European Athletics Green Inspiration Partners Mondo - might be modestly sized by international standards but eight world records, two of which are still on the record books - have still been set in Rieti over the years.
Kenya’s Daniel Komen famously broke the world 3000m record in 1996 with a time of 7:20.67 and his compatriot Noah Ngeny eclipsed Sebastian Coe’s world 1000m record with 2:11.96 three years later while David Rudisha improved his world 800m record to 1:41.01 in 2011, second only to the Kenyan's gun-to-tape world record of 1:40.91 from the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Rieti also played host to a memorable European Athletics U20 Championships in 2013.
Notable champions to emerge five years ago included Great Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith, Germany’s Malaika Mihambo and Belgium’s Nafissatou Thiam, all of whom went on to win gold medals at the Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships.
The hosts have already amassed an excellent record at the European Athletics U18 Championships and there should be plenty of home success to toast in 2020. Italy finished third on the medal table behind Great Britain and Germany in 2016 with three gold medals before finishing second behind Great Britain again in 2018 with four gold medals.
In total, 22 championship records were broken at the Gyor 2018 European Athletics U18 Championships which were highlighted by two world U18 bests.
Ukraine’s Myhaylo Kokhan broke the world U18 best in the hammer with 87.82m - the longest throw ever recorded with any hammer implement regardless of weight - while Spain’s Maria Vicente broke the world U18 best in the heptathlon with 6221 points before setting a championship record of 13.95m to win the triple jump.
Ireland’s Sarah Healy was another double gold medallist, setting championship records to win both the 1500m and 3000m while Italy’s Lorenzo Benati also came away from Gyor with two gold medals, winning the 400m in a championship record of 46.85 before anchoring Italy to gold with a flying last leg in the boys’ medley relay for a successful defence of their title.