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President Wirz reaffirms EAA commitment to U23 championships


Hansjörg Wirz
(Foto: EAA)
[13.07.2005] At the press conference held prior to the opening day of the European Under-23 Championships in Erfurt, EAA President Hansjörg Wirz reiterated the importance placed on this competition by the continent's governing body.

"As an overseer of the forty-nine member federations in Europe, we [the EAA] have to take care that future generations of young athletes are taken care of, and are given a good stepping stone in their development," said Wirz. "The under-23 championships serves as an important bridge between the Junior (under-20) Championships and the big competitions at the senior level." The Erfurt championships are the fifth edition of the biennial event.

Wirz reported that the participation levels remain high, slightly more than at the 2003 Championships in Bydgoszcz. "We have forty-one of our forty-nine member federations represented here," he continued, "with a total of 811 athletes-465 men and 346 women."

Poland brings the largest contingent of athletes with eighty-one (forty-six men and thirty-five women), followed closely by the host Germans with seventy-nine (forty-one men and thirty-eight women).

Ralf Hafermann, president of the Thuringian Athletics Federation and the head of the local organizing committee, also greeted the assembled media. "We have done much preparation for the competition this year, and we hope that the new track and the resurfaced technical areas will produce good results," he remarked.

Carolina Klüft of Sweden, the Olympic heptathlon champion who will compete here as the defending U23 champion in the women's long jump, sees the competition as an important component of her season.

"I'm at a point in my season when I will have fewer competitions but also more training. My participation in the long jump will be a rare chance for me to concentrate on a single event," said Klüft.

Even with a full schedule tugging at her time, Klüft puts a high importance on representing Sweden in international competitions. "There's never a question for me about my participation on a national team. I'm always available."

For high jumper Jaroslav Bába, the Olympic Bronze medallist, the championships this weekend will be tantamount to another training session. "Competitions and training are the same for me," said the tall Czech, "because that's the only time I jump."

Though considered the slight favourite in an event which presents perhaps the greatest depth of quality this weekend, Bába is taking nothing for granted. "There are so many other good jumpers here - Bieniek (POL), Thörnblad (SWE), Krimarenko (UKR), Dmitrik (RUS) - that we are all going to push each other a lot," he predicted.

Two German hurdlers were also present at the conference. Kai Doskoczynski echoed the thoughts of his teammate, Willi Mathiszik, saying that it was "and honour to be representing Germany at a championships held in Germany. Hopefully it will be an important springboard in the direction of Beijing for both of us."
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