Poland successfully defended their title at the European Athletics Team Championships Super League on home soil in Silesia in front of a crowd of 7500 spectators on Sunday (30) afternoon, becoming the first nation to do so since Russia in 2013.
Just like in 2019, the Poles won 10 of the 40 events but this year’s competition remained in the balance right until the end with three teams still in title contention. Poland only led by 2.5 points before the final event ahead of Great Britain & NI and Italy, both of whom fielded strong teams for the finale in the men’s 4x400m
The British team were leading Poland for three quarters of the race but disaster struck once again as anchor leg runner Rabah Yousif, the veteran of the British team, failed to take grip of the baton. With the Brits out of contention, the path was suddenly clear for Poland to successfully and deservedly retain their title which they did with a third-place finish in the 4x400m to take their tally to 181.5 points across the weekend.
The Italians won the men’s 4x400m in a European leading time of 3:02.64 which elevated them from third to second overall with 179 points, their best ever finish in European Athletics Team Championships history. The Brits might have finished on an auspicious note but their third-place finish was their first podium finish since 2013.
Two of the outstanding performers for the Polish team in Silesia were two of their youngsters in Pia Skryzszowska and Natalia Kaczmarek who were both making their European Athletics Team Championships debuts.
After winning the 100m yesterday, 20-year-old Skryzszowska completed a unique double with victory in the 100m hurdles in 12.99 to add another seven points to the Polish team total. Skryzszowska became the first woman to win both events at the same edition of either the European Team Championships or the event’s predecessor, the European Cup.
“I’m obviously fast now, as I showed yesterday, and I have to adjust my technique to the improved speed now, to find the right rhythm. I definitely have reserves in this event,” said Skryzszowska whose lifetime best of 12.92 is clearly due for revision.
Kaczmarek was an equally valuable addition to the Polish team. Fresh from winning the 400m yesterday, the double European U23 champion anchored the Poles to an expected and popular victory in the women’s 4x400m in 3:26.37 ahead of Great Britain (3:27.16) and Italy (3:29.05) courtesy of a 50.83 anchor leg.
The outstanding second day performer for the Poles was four-time world champion Pawel Fajdek. Nimbly navigating his way across a slick and slippery throwing circle after a heavy downpour at the start of the programme, Fajdek launched the 7.26kg hammer to a world lead and championship record of 82.98m in the third round, his best throw in four years.
"In better conditions I could still add to today’s distance, but it’s not that moment in the season yet. I’m also generally healthy, with only minor problems," said Fajdek, who passed his fourth attempt.
Former world indoor champion Kamila Licwinko was ecstatic to clear 1.94m in the women’s high jump to seal a full complement of points for the Polish contingent and another day two victory for the hosts came courtesy of former European champion Robert Sobera who ably deputised for Piotr Lisek with victory in the pole vault with a 5.65m clearance.
The outstanding second day performance came from Germany’s Christin Hussong in the women’s javelin. The European champion followed in Johannes Vetter’s footsteps with a searing second round championship record of 69.19m to elevate Hussong into the world all-time top-10.
With Poland’s world leader Maria Andrejczyk sadly not competing due to a small injury, Hussong won the women’s javelin by more than 10 metres. However, her efforts were not enough to hoist the Germans onto the podium who finished fourth overall with 171 points, the first time they have missed the podium at the European Athletics Team Championships.
“This is a team competition, so the whole team wins and loses together,” said Hussong. “We only finished fourth here, but we will be back next time!”
By contrast the Italians reached the podium for the first time at the European Athletics Team Championships in spite of the late withdrawals of Marcell Jacobs in the 100m and Gianmarco Tamberi in the high jump. As well as a concluding victory in the men's 4x400m, other second day highlights for the Italians included victories for European finalist Eseosa Desalu in the 200m in 20.48 and for two-time SPAR European U20 cross country champion Nadia Battocletti in the 5000m in 15:46.95.
The Italian team competed with the Italian tricolore tattoeed on their arms in memory of two-time Olympian Alessandro Talotti in the high jump who died earlier this month at the age of 40.
Full results here.