Nine reigning Olympic and 11 European champions from Munich 2022 will be in action for their respective countries in the 1st Division of the European Athletics Team Championships in Silesia which begins on Friday (23) evening in the Silesian Stadium.
Ahead of the championships, we look ahead to some of the standout and defining clashes of the next three days.
Can Kaczmarek block Bol’s aspirations in the 400m
Treble European champion Femke Bol is one of the marquee names of an event in which she will contest the 400m.
Having reduced the world indoor record which had stood since 1982 to 49.26 in February, Bol will have no concerns about her sharpness ahead of this 1st Division challenge but the Dutch athlete will not be able to relax against a field that includes home runner Natalia Kaczmarek, the European silver medallist.
Bol has run 50.11 outdoors this season which puts her third on the European list. Kaczmarek is one place above her with the 50.02 she clocked in this very arena earlier this month.
Skrzyszowska set for showdown with European indoor champion Hurske
Home athlete Pia Skrzyszowska, who led this year’s European indoor 60m hurdles list with 7.78 but was unable to contest the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Istanbul because of injury, is back in the running.
Her opponents in a talent-rich 1st Division contest include the Finn who won the European indoor title and who leads the European outdoor list this year with 12.70 - Reetta Hurske.
Also in the mix will be Laeticia Bapte of France and Switzerland’s European outdoor and indoor bronze medallist Ditaji Kambundji, both of whom have clocked 12.78 this season, and Nadine Visser of The Netherlands, who won European indoor gold in 2019 and 2021 and took silver behind Hurske in Istanbul.
It’s going to be a highly competitive affair.
Tentoglou looking for long jump revenge against decathlete Ehammer
European indoor and outdoor long jump champion Miltiadis Tentoglou helped Greece to promotion with victory two years ago with a championship record of 8.38m.
But another mark in that region is likely to be needed by the Olympic champion to ensure victory against the Swiss decathlete Simon Ehammer who beat him in Oslo last Thursday.
Ehammer’s winning effort of 8.32m in the Bislett Stadium tops this year’s European list ahead of the 8.26 achieved by the Greek athlete who has previously spoken in terms of wanting to maintain the honour of specialist long jumpers.
But could both be over-leapt by Italy’s 18-year-old Mattia Furlani, third in this year’s listings on 8.24m, who recently jumped a marginally wind-aided 8.44m?
Will Crippa come a cropper over Ndikumwenayo?
Thierry Ndikumwenayo, who will make his debut for Spain in the 1st Division in the men’s 5000m, represents a big threat to Italy’s European 10,000km champion Yemaneberhan Crippa, who set a Championship record of 13:17.23 in 2021.
Ndikumwenayo, 26, made a breakthrough at senior level last year in earning a first Diamond League win over 3000m and ran 12:58.60 in finishing sixth in Oslo.
Llopis back after horror fall with Joseph in his sights
A horrific fall at the last barrier in the European Athletics Indoor Championships 60m hurdles final in Istanbul left Spain’s Enrique Llopis motionless and unconscious as medical officials rushed to his assistance and eventually carried him from the arena wearing a neck brace.
Thankfully the 22-year-old made a swift recovery and he is now setting his sights on the Swiss athlete who won that race, Jason Joseph as they meet in the 1st Division in the 110m hurdles.
The Swiss athlete is second on this year’s European list with 13.10 with Llopis, who was contesting the lead before crashing out in Istanbul, fifth on 13.37.
Dangerous Weir ahead for home hope Haratyk
Huge, and hugely popular home shot putter Michal Haratyk, is seeking a third consecutive victory at the European Athletics Team Championships.
The 31-year-old Pole is very familiar with the experience of standing on a podium having won European silver in 2016 and gold in Berlin two years later.
But he will face serious opposition in the form of reigning European indoor champion Zane Weir from Italy who have legitimate prospects of challenging for the overall title in Silesia.
Peleteiro nursing triple jump ambition of challenging Türkiye’s Danismaz
Tugba Danismaz earned a hugely emotional home gold in the triple jump at the European Athletics Indoor Championships hosted earlier this year by a Turkish nation still coming to terms with the awful loss of life through two earthquakes in the region.
She looks capable of earning another significant honour in the 1st Division but the victory will be strongly contested by Spain’s Ana Peleteiro.
The Olympic bronze medallist is back in action six months after giving birth to a daughter.
Mike Rowbottom for European Athletics