Today (7) marks the one year to go countdown to one of the biggest, exciting and most important events in the build-up to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
The Roma 2024 European Athletics Championships takes place between 7-12 June some 50 years after the Italian capital last staged the biennial championships.
The iconic Stadio Olimpico, which also staged the 1960 Olympic Games and 1987 World Athletics Championships, will be the focal point of the championships although some events, including the qualifying round of the men’s and women’s shot put, will take place in historic locations around the city.
The half marathon course has also been designed to showcase many of the city’s most famous and instantly recognisable landmarks. The courses for the half marathon and 20km race walk, the first time race walking events will be part of the European Athletics Championships programme in an Olympic year, and the location of the shot put qualifying competition in Roma 2024 will be unveiled later this year.
Another addition to the programme is the mixed 4x400m which will make its European Athletics Championships debut in Roma, one of five relay events on the programme along with the men's and women's 4x100m and 4x400m.
More than 1000 athletes from across Europe are due to take part in next year’s event which marks the 26th edition of the European Athletics Championships, the most prestigious and longest running event on the European Athletics calendar.
Tickets for the Roma 2024 European Athletics Championships are due to go on sale later this summer. For more information, please visit the official championships website.
Looking back at 1974…
At those championships, a raucous crowd of 60,000 in the Italian capital witnessed the late Pietro Mennea - who still holds the European 200m record at 19.72 - upgrade his silver medal from the 100m to gold in the 200m.
The championships also saw the arrival of the venerable Sara Simeoni who won the first major medal of her career with bronze in the high jump at the age of 21.
Simeoni would go on to win European gold four years later in Prague, when equalling the world record of 2.01m, before progressing to Olympic gold in Moscow 1980.
The star of those champions was arguably Poland’s Irena Szewinska who won the 100m and 200m titles with championship records of 11.13 and 22.51 respectively.
Szewinska was to add to her medal tally with bronze in the 4x100m before concluding her championships with an incredible split of 48.5 in the 4x400m.
In total, a whopping 24 gold medals were won with championship record performances and four world records were also set across the championships.
Looking ahead to Roma 2024…
Fifty years later and the European Athletics Championships return to the iconic Stadio Olimpico. Could athletics history be written again?
And the timing of Roma 2024 could hardly be better from an Italian point of view as Italian athletics has seldom - if ever - looked in better shape.
This was demonstrated by their record-breaking Olympic campaign in Tokyo 2020 where they surpassed all expectations by winning five gold medals before accruing their best ever medal haul at the European Athletics Championships since 1990 with 11 medals in Munich 2022.
Marcell Jacobs and Gianmarco Tamberi won gold medals within the space of an hour in Tokyo 2020 with Jacobs to win his second gold medal in the 4x100m. Both of them backed up their Olympic triumphs with European titles in Munich 2022 last summer.
And it is by no means inconceivable all four of their individual Olympic champions will be competing in Roma 2024 next June.
With the 20km race walk part of the European Athletics Championships programme for the first time in an Olympic year, Tokyo 2020 Olympic champions Antonella Palmisano and Massimo Stano will have an opportunity to add European titles to their respective resumes en route to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
Behind the established seniors, some of Italy’s brightest prospects are also expected to star in Roma 2024.
Still only 18, the charismatic and precocious Mattia Furlani recently jumped a marginally wind-aided 8.44m while fellow long jumper Larissa Iapichino, 20, will be aiming for a return to the podium after winning silver at the Istanbul 2023 European Athletics Indoor Championships.
What they are saying…
European Athletics President Dobromir Karamarinov:
"Many world records have been set in Rome and we expect just as many excellent performances in Rome 2024, especially from the stars of Italian athletics. We look forward to that moment in a year that brings the world of European athletics and Roma 2024 closer to the heart of the public, creating enthusiasm and excitement ahead of the competition.'
"Congratulations to the Local Organising Committee and the Italian Athletics Federation (FIDAL). Roma 2024 could be the best European Athletics Championships ever!"
Roma 2024 Director General Paolo Carito:
"The EuroRoma2024 Foundation (LOC) will work so hard to organise an outstanding event, with the support of all the institutions involved, starting with the Italian Federation, the government, the city of Rome and the Lazio region. The entire team is working hard to host such an important event and to honour the iconic sport of athletics."
"It is 50 years since the last European Athletics Championships in Rome so the city will be ready to welcome all the legends and the new and present big European athletes."
European indoor long jump silver medallist Larissa Iapichino:
"It's really exciting. For the athletes having a home crowd is an honour and something that gives you a lot of energy. I'm really excited for it and I think it will be a really good championships. I'm feeling it!"