A-to-Z of an amazing year for European Athletics

A-to-Z of an amazing year for European Athletics
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Led by Dafne Schippers, the Dutch 4x100m relay team won a brilliant gold on the final day of the Amsterdam 2016 European Athletics Championships.

Part 1 of 2.

A...is for Amsterdam

The perfect place to start with the sensational European Athletics Championships in the Dutch capital between 6-10 July. It had everything, from the glory of home gold medals for Churandy Martina, Dafne Schippers, Anouk Vetter and the 4x100m relay women, to the brilliant long distance double by Turkey's Yasemin Can and the emotion of the decathlon glory of Belgium's Thomas Van der Plaetsen after his battle with cancer. And there was so much more – with the javelin qualifying competition at the Museumplein and the first European Half Marathon.

B...is for Beitia

What a summer it was for Spain's Ruth Beitia, who first made it a hat-trick of gold medals at the European Athletics Championships when she won with 1.98m and then, at the age of 37, finally became the Olympic champion as she cleared 1.97m. Beitia had retired after London 2012 but quickly returned and she culminated 2016 by being named as the European Female Athlete of the Year at the Golden Tracks awards in October.

C...is for Chia

A brilliant end to the athletics year with this month's SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Sardinia, where the sun shone amid a series of superb performances, with Turkey celebrating a one-two in the senior races, in the shape of Aras Kaya and Polat Kemboi Arikan, first and second in the men's event, and Yasemin Can – winning another gold – and Meryem Akda, first and second in the women's.

D...is for Dafne

Dutch superstar Dafne Schippers entered the year with high expectation and she delivered in style, once more proving her status among the finest sprinters in history. First, she successfully defended her European 100m gold medal in 10.90 in front of her home fans on the night they will not forget at the European Athletics Championships in Amsterdam, where she also ran the second leg of the triumphant 4x100m relay, before then winning her first Olympic medal, a glorious silver in the 200m in Rio.

E...is for Ekaterini

At the start of 2016, Greek pole vaulter Ekaterini Stefanidi must have dreamed about becoming Olympic and European champion and at the end of 2016, she has both those gold medals. It truly was 12 months to remember for Stefanidi, who started by winning bronze at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Portland in March. Then came her amazing summer, with a championship record to win the European title in 4.81m before going even higher, as 4.85m brought Olympic glory.

F...is for Farah

The undisputed king of long distance, Great Britain's Mo Farah became only the second man to achieve the Olympic 5000m and 10,000m double double. He joined Finland's Lasse Viren – who did this double-double in Munich 1972 and Montreal in 1976 – with his brilliant successes in Rio in August and now has an amazing 14 major titles at those distances combined. He was then named as the Male European Athlete of the Year, winning the award for a record third time.

G...is for Great

The athletics year began with the Great Edinburgh Cross Country, where one of the stars of the show was Kate Avery, the double Euro Cross silver medallist who achieved a fine win in the women's senior race over 6km as she beat two former Euro Cross gold medallists – Ireland's Fionnuala McCormack and British teammate Gemma Steel. This European Cross Country Permit event saw Britain win the match with 125 points from Team Europe (197) and the USA (232).

H...is for Home

In November, European Athletics opened its new headquarters in Lausanne. The House of European Athletics was officially inaugurated following splendid celebrations with representatives from most European Member Federations and with other prestigious sporting dignitaries in attendance. European Athletics President Svein Arne Hansen welcomed IOC President Thomas Bach and IAAF First Vice President Sergey Bubka among others and said: “I am delighted to receive so many members of the Athletics Family for this historic moment for our organisation.”

I...is for Ingebrigtsen

What a year it has been for the Ingebrigtsen family, with major European gold and bronze on track and gold in cross country. In July, Filip, the middle of the three brothers, won the 1500m title in Amsterdam with older brother Henrik in third and then earlier this month, Jakob, who is just 16, triumphed in the under-20 race at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Chia.

J...is for Juniors

In September in Castelllon, the men of Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers and women of Fenerbahçe, the defending champions, celebrated team glory in the European Champions Club Cup Junior Group A. Seven points separated Shaftesbury's men (123) from Fenerbahçe in a competition where the pair won 15 events as hosts Playas de Castellon, the defending champions, finished third (93), and in the women's competition, Fenerbahçe won the trophy for the third time in a row, despite finishing first in only two events, as they scored 114.50 to beat Blackheath & Bromley Harriers AC (106.50) and Sparta AM (102.50).

K...is for Kimeli

Isaac Kimeli is a cross country runner of outstanding consistency and 2016 finally brought him a major title as he won the under-23 race at the SPAR European Cross County Championships. A junior silver medallist back in 2013, he ran a superbly controlled race to win by five seconds in 22:48 from Spain's Carlos Mayo.

L...is for Long Jumper

In 2016, Serbian Ivana Spanovic achieved the major outdoor gold she has so long sought with a superb performance of 6.94m from the second round at the European Athletics Championships in Amsterdam. Spanovic entered the competition with two world bronzes and a European silver but now she was on top of the podium with this success to go alongside her European indoor title. And her great year, which had started with world indoor silver in Portland, then saw her win Olympic bronze in Rio.

M...is for Matej

A year after winning the 50km walk at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing, Slovakia’s Matej Toth was a gold medallist again after another sensational performance. And this time he was being crowned as the Olympic champion in Rio where, in a time of 3:40.58, he beat Australia's Jared Tallent (3:41:16) and Japan's Hirooki Arai (3:41:24). Showing so much energy and depth of strength, Toth really has become such a superstar of the event, a favourite who delivered in style.