European Athletics Team Championships Super League press conference highlights

Bydgoszcz press conference
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Germany's Malaika Mihambo and Switzerland's Mujinga Kambundji attended the pre-event press conference for the Bydgoszcz 2019 European Athletics Team Championships Super League

Ahead of the European Athletics Team Championships Super League in Bydgoszcz, four of the leading athletes in action over the next three days spoke to the press about their individual and team prospects.  

Malaika Mihambo (GER) - Mihambo has been at the forefront of the long jump this season, surpassing the seven metre-line four times in her six outdoor competitions. The reigning European champion is one of the bankers on the German team, especially after her performance at the German Championships last weekend in which she extended her lifetime best and world lead to 7.16m.

On refocusing after winning at the European Championships in Berlin...

"I went travelling but since I got back I’ve been training and focused on the World Championships in Doha so it’s all the same. We train every day and we have the focus set and the aim of Doha and of course the Olympic Games next year. I’ve been working a lot on my mental strength, I was doing a lot of meditation and focus exercises and I think it’s really helpful to competing on a high level like I have been doing so far this year."

On travelling to India during the off-season...

"I did a meditation camp for ten days and it was maybe the toughest thing I have done in my life so far - meditating for 10 hours a day, waking up at 4.30am, going to bed at 9.30pm. That was really something; you get to know yourself better and you learn so much about yourself, how you react, how you think, you learn to just sit and be silent and don’t do anything. 

"I think this is really something that helps me in competition and travelling alone - I think solo travel as a female is something you can learn from, grow and get a different perspective."

On doing ballet and judo as a youngster and how it helps her as a long jumper...

"Well I was really young when I did that, so I’m not sure if it really relates to my success these days! I can say that it’s interesting to try different types of sports - ballet and judo are quite different from track and field so I think it’s just something which broadens the horizons."

On finishing third in the 100m at the German Championships...

"This year we have put more focus on speed but there is still much to do for me to be better in the 100m - including my starting phase. But I think it’s really helpful for the long jump because speed is the most important thing when it comes to achieving bigger length.

"We also had the biomechanical results from the German Championships last week and I was as fast as ever before in the long jump so I think we are going in the right way."

On winning the long jump at the 2014 European Athletics Team Championships...

"I look back with much happiness. It was like bliss because the conditions were really great so I could jump that far [6.90m to take maximum points in Braunschweig] and now, I’m older and stronger so I’m really looking forward to this competition and I hope I can do my best for my team and perform at a high level."

Mujinga Kambundji talks to the press ahead of the European Athletics Team Championships Super League
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Mujinga Kambundji talks to the press ahead of the European Athletics Team Championships Super League

Mujinga Kambundji (SUI) - Kambundji will be making her sixth appearance at the European Athletics Team Championships but along with her Swiss teammates, she will be making her debut in the Super League this weekend. Kambundji played a significant role in securing promotion for the Swiss team in 2017 with victory in the 100m but this weekend she will be contesting the 200m and 4x100m relay.

On how her season has progressed thus far...

“My preparation has been OK. I didn’t start in the way I wanted to but I have worked on what was missing in the middle of the race so last weekend was a big step forward [11.15 over 100m in Berne] and I’m really looking forward to running here. It’s a huge thing for the Swiss team as it’s the first time in the Super League so I’m really excited to run but then of course the big goal this year is Doha.”

On Switzerland's success at the European U20 and U23 Championships last month...

“I follow them a lot. They are a lot younger than me so I don’t know all of them but I saw them winning medals and it’s really amazing how strong the youth is in Switzerland. When I was at that age, it was special when there was one medal but now we have several winners which is really amazing and I try and follow them.

On the team morale...

“I think the European Athletics Team Championships are a perfect competition for getting closer to the younger athletes - this year we have a young team with a lot of U20 athletes and I just know them from the articles and I haven’t really talked to them yet so I’m looking forward to seeing them and seeing how they compete. 

I think it’s also good for them to sit at the table with the big athletes - I know that when I went to my first European Athletics Team Championships, it was really special for me so I hope they enjoy it too and ask us some questions if they have something to ask. I think it’s a great thing.

On the resurgence in Swiss athletics in recent years...

I think it all started with Zurich 2014 - that’s when we had Kariem Hussein who won the 400m hurdles at the European Championships and then it’s like a new wave and since then it’s always getting better, there’s a better dynamic. The level is so much higher in so many different disciplines. It’s really cool and I think everyone is enjoying this different dynamic.

Poland's Justyna Swiety-Ersetic speaks to the press ahead of the European Athletics Team Championships Super League
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Poland's Justyna Swiety-Ersetic speaks to the press ahead of the European Athletics Team Championships Super League

Justyna Swiety-Ersetic (POL) - Swiety-Ersetic contributed handsomely to Poland’s medal haul at the European Championships in Berlin, winning the individual 400m title and the 4x400m relay title on the same night. Swiety-Ersetic has the fastest season’s best in the individual and she will also be part of the relay team on the final day. 

On how her season has progressed so far...

“My season started quite well with a 50.8 clocking. I was in very hard training at the time and I had just come back from two weeks in Spala where I was training for this season. I am very optimistic this competition will go well and I hope to win and get twelve points for Poland.”

On whether she prefers to compete in Poland or internationally...

“I feel really motivated to compete anywhere but especially on Polish soil in front of the Polish public. I feel they will get behind me and I will compete really well.”

On Poland's prospects in the 4x400m relay... 

“The Polish relay is obviously very strong and the preparations have gone very well, all the girls are looking very strong but obviously the priority is the World Championships in Doha where we are hoping to win a medal.

Ewa Swoboda (POL) - Swoboda dominated the indoor season which she capped off by winning the 60m title at the Glasgow 2019 European Athletics Indoor Championships. While her competitive schedule has been reduced this summer due to a heel injury, Swoboda did defend her European U23 100m title in Gavle in a season’s best of 11.15. Swoboda will be contesting the 100m and 4x100m this weekend. 

On her plans for the rest of the season...

“There was a lot of speculation in the press about the IAAF World Championships in Doha and there was a misunderstanding. I gave a quick answer and it got completely misunderstood - the answer is it depends on my form; if I run between 11.0-11.05 and have a chance to get into the final, the answer is probably yes but the vision is long term for the Olympic year. It will depend a lot on tomorrow’s performance.”

On her preparations since the indoor season...

“The season has been quite long and I got a bit of an injury in my heel but I would like to do my best here.”

On whether she has made any predictions on how well the Polish team will compete...

“I think the counting doesn’t make sense. We just want to come here and perform the best and show the Germans we can win!”