Daily Archives: June 21, 2010

SPAR European Team Championships

Europe is the hotbed of track & field. Even if most of the talents hail from the United States, Jamaica and Africa, most of the big money meets like the Golden League and Diamond League are held in Europe. Based on the clips I’ve seen online and the articles I’ve read from net, various forms of athletics clubs exist in Europe.

Aside from the Europeans’ appreciation for athletics, what I find remarkable are the team competitions held between countries. In the recently concluded SPAR* European Team Championships in Bergen, Norway; Russian men and women outclassed the competition (Total points scored by the men and women contribute to the overall ranking of a country). Britain at 317 points was a far second from Russia’s 379.5 points. Defending champion Germany languished at 7th place, with host Norway finishing 2nd to the last – facing regulation to the lesser divisions of the Championships.

Like the ongoing World Cup in South Africa, there were several upsets. Hometown hero Andreas Thorkildsen managed only second place in the javelin (82.98m). The two-time Olympic Champion lost to Germany’s Mattias de Zordo‘s 83.80m heave. French youngster Teddy Tamgho, who jumped 17.98m in the Triple Jump last week, was far from his world-beating form as he finished in 3rd place (17.10m) behind Ukraine’s Viktor Kuznetzov (17.26m – PB) and 2009 World Champion, Philips Idowu (17.12m)

The format of the competition resembles Tennis’ Davis Cup. The top division or the so-called Super League is the most prestigious.  Less athletically-endowed countries compete among themselves in the First, Second and Third Leagues. The top 3 (or 2) placers in the minor leagues are promoted to the next most prestigious rung, while the bottom 3 (or 2) are relegated. The “bottom three teams of the Super League [Greece, Norway and Finland] were relegated to the First League for 2011.” Conversely, the top three teams in the First League (Czech Republic, Sweden and Portugal) climb up to the main draw.

Watch the highlights of Russia’s road to the top from this Eurosport link.

The Russians celebrate their dominance

An older albeit smaller team level meet is the Finnkampen ( “The Finn Battle”) or the Ruotsiottelu (“The Sweden Match”).  It’s a yearly, dual meet type of competition held between Sweden and Finland.

I hope that a similar format of competition take root in Asia. The team aspect – where entire countries are pitted against each other for an overall crown – is an interesting innovation. Us  Southeast Asians have the SEA Games (a multisport, regional spectacle), where a general champion is proclaimed.  But then again, a smaller meet like the Finnkampen/Ruotsiottelu would be a splendid, cost-effective way to promote the sport.

*SPAR – “is the world’s largest food retailer, with approximately 20,000 stores in 35 countries worldwide.”

Additional Links:

SPAR European Team Championships Wrap-up

Super League event reports

Ruotsiottelu

Finnkampen

Finnkampen Wiki

Photo Credits:

European Athletics

Video Credits:

Eurosport

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