Ukraine won the overall title at the European Combined Events Team Championships Super League in Tallinn, Estonia two years ago and they will be looking to keep hold of their crown one month today when the Ukrainian city of Lutsk plays host to the top-tier of the competition.
Their standout individual performer two years ago was the precocious Alina Shukh. Only 18 at the time, Shukh won the heptathlon title with a lifetime best of 6208 points which she improved to 6381 points later in the month to win her second major title at the European Athletics U20 Championships.
Shukh hasn’t contested a heptathlon thus far this season but the home contingent will surely expect big things from their star all-rounder who also won the world U20 javelin title last July. Away from the track, Shukh is a talented artist and she also helped with the design of the mascot - a bee - for the event.
One of the stalwarts of the Ukrainian team is Oleksiy Kasyanov who is expected to play a significant role for the hosts. Not only does Kasyanov bring a lot of experience to the team, he is also a three-time runner-up in the event individually.
Kasyanov finished second two years ago to Estonia’s Janek Oiglane who went on to finish fourth at the IAAF World Championships in his breakout season. With five decathletes already having scored in excess of 7900-points already this year, the Estonians will arrive in Lutsk of winning their first team title in event history.
Ukraine will be staging the event for the first time in event history with the two-day competition taking place in Lutsk’s recently refurbished Avanhard Stadium. The city itself is situated on the Styr River and is associated with the Lutsk Castle which dates back to the mid-fourteenth century.
Previous individual winners of the European Combined Events Team Championships Super League include Torsten Voss (1985, 1987), Tomas Dvorak (1995, 1999), Roman Sebrle (1997), Erki Nool (1998) and Kevin Mayer (2013) in the decathlon and Sabine John (1985), Denise Lewis (1995), Carolina Kluft (2005) and Jessica Ennis-Hill (2007) in the heptathlon.