At the pre-event press conference for the Gävle 2019 European Athletics U23 Championships on Wednesday (10) held at the Gävle City Hall, European Athletics President Svein Arne Hansen described 2019 as “the year of innovation” but also emphasised the crucial role of the U23 category from a developmental standpoint.
The European U23 Championships was only added to the calendar as recently as 1997 - replacing the European U23 Cup which was staged in 1992 and 1994 - and more than 1100 athletes from 50 nations have officially entered this year’s biennial event which begins tomorrow (11).
For many athletes, the European U23 Championships will represent the pinnacle of their seasons but the event remains a consequential one for athletes who have already made the grade at senior level. Three gold medallist from the European Championships in Berlin are also due to compete.
“This is - in my view - maybe the most important developmental competition in European Athletics. For us, the European U23 Championships is the most important thing we can do for the athletes. We will see the stars of today - there are eight medallists from Berlin - and we will have a lot of athletes here who will be medal winners at the World Championships and Olympic Games in the future,” said President Hansen.
Hansen also paid tribute to the Local Organising Committee and the municipal authorities for their diligent work in putting on the championships. “I want to thank Gävle and the community around here for the great support for this event. Without the support you are giving there is no chance of organising this event. I want to thank the local organisers as well,” said Hansen.
Great press conference today in Gävle for ECH U23, very good local interest pic.twitter.com/eyvH375fBv
— Svein Arne Hansen (@SvenPres) July 10, 2019
Sweden will remain in the spotlight next week when Boras stages the European Athletics U20 Championships from 19-22 July and Gävle 2019 Local Organising Committee (LOC) Chairperson Karin Grute Movin elaborated on the theme of development.
“This is a very special situation because we are working very hard to strengthen athletics. I can say this because we are hosting two European Championships in two weeks,” said Grute Movin, who was elected onto the European Athletics Council in April.
She added: “We are very thankful for the support we have had from the Gävle municipality. We have athletes from all the different Swedish athletics club taking part here.”
Mayor of Gävle Åsa Wiklund Lång hopes the host city and the championships themselves will make a lasting impression on the athletes, media representatives and visitors alike. “We are extremely proud to host this championships and I really hope you will feel and experience the great effort we have made to make this a successful and memorable event,” she said.