European Athletics High Performance Conference took place over the weekend from 29-31 March and brought together over 60 delegates from the majority of European Athletics Member Federations at the Polish Capital’s Renaissance Hotel for three days of presentations of workshops.
Following welcome messages on Friday from European Athletics First Vice President Dobromir Karamarinov and Poland’s two-time Olympic shot put champion Tomasz Majewski, who is now a Vice President of the Polish athletics federation, the first day sessions for the coaches, coaching managers and federation officials focussed on Creating a successful high performance environment and preparing athletes in the coming 18 months ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Swedish athletics federation head coach Karin Torneklint and Poland’s deputy head coach Krzysztof Kęcki gave case studies on the coaching structure in their countries, with input from European Athletics Coaching Association President Frank Dick.
Torneklint and Kęcki were then joined for workshop sessions by Polish athletics federation sports director Piotr Haczek, Female Coaching Network founder Vicky Huyton and German athletics federation sports manager Idriss Gonschinska.
Later in the first afternoon the theme addressed by Marco Cardinale, the Head of Sports Physiology of the Aspire Academy in Doha was the issue of Tokyo 2020 strategies and managing the preparations of a team.
Emphasising the packed calendar in the coming eight months, and the potential environmental challenges of both the IAAF World Championships Doha 2019 and Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Cardinale commented ruefully to the audience: “If you can keep your athletes alive to the end of 2020, you’ll have done a good job.”
On Saturday, the emphasis switched from strategies to the scientific in four sessions during the day.
High respected German sports scientists Ulrich Hartmann and Sabrina Skorski opened proceedings with presentations Metabolism and Physiology, and Adaptation and Recovery, respectively.
Nutritionist Marc Fell talked about his specialist subject using examples from his work with Team Sky Pro Cycling and while strength and conditioning coach Daniel Lavipour drew on his experience and work, not only athletics but also acting as a senior advisor to netball and kayaking teams, when addressing injury prevention.
Physiotherapist Lutz Meissner then concluded the days presentations by looking at the area of rehabilitation before the delegates embarked on a series of workshops followed by a panel discussion.
The final morning in the Polish capital saw a change of direction with communications manager and former professional skier Jamie Fox talking about the media and its importance to, and impact on high performance athletes, as well as the sport in general.
“It’s an area that is often under-recognised in terms of what it means to top athletes and what impact it has on them,” reflected Fox, who has worked with leading British athletes Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis-Hill and Greg Rutherford, all of whom have been world and Olympic champions.
Fox was joined for a panel discussion and workshops by European Athletics Events, PR & Brand Manager Biljana Danicic and accompanied by journalists and communications specialist Nobojsa Mandrapa and Phil Minshull.