In search of the perfect track: European Athletics CEO joins CONICA Panel Discussion

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  • In search of the perfect track: European Athletics CEO joins CONICA Panel Discussion

European Athletics CEO Christian Milz joined a panel of experts in Cologne, Germany  for a discussion hosted by CONICA on sports facilities for recreational and professional athletes on Tuesday.

The event was held as part of the FSB 2023 trade show, which brought together around 450 exhibitors from 40 countries to present innovative concepts and products relating to sports and exercise facilities.

The CONICA Panel Discussion held at KölnSky in Cologne was one of the highlights of the show with more than 240 guests attending.

Alongside Christian Milz on the panel were: Steffen Willwacher, Professor of Biomechanics at the University of Offenburg; Tomas Stukas, Head of Development at Active Vilnius; and Kevin Young, the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games gold medalist  and former 400m hurdles world record holder.

The moderator and host for the night was Andy Kay, former Managing Editor of BBC Radio Sport and presenter for many years of the European Athletics Golden Tracks,, alongside co-moderator and professional content creator Alexandra Wizor.

CONICA panel discussion

The importance of the surface for athletes

The panel discussed a range of themes, with Steffen Willwacher explaining that biomechanics, his field of research, is: “All about how people interact with the environment. Regarding the sport, we analyse how people move. For instance, we look for options to improve the interaction with the running track, how to improve performances and avoid injuries.”

Kevin Young seconded how important the surface is for the athletes. His beginnings as an athlete were all on dirt or cinder tracks – only later did he run on synthetic tracks. It made a difference for him, “But if one looks at the tracks of today, it's a world of difference again,” he said.

Another perspective was presented by Tomas Stukas, who takes care of sports urban spaces for children and adults in public areas of the Lithuanian capital Vilnius. 

For him, spaces like outdoor playgrounds help to leverage town quarters: “These places are good for exercising and gathering in the neighbourhood. Furthermore, we install good surfaces so that, from childhood age on, exercising in a good environment makes youngsters want to do more sports and prevents injuries. Our facilities can be the cradle for top athletes in the future.”

Key considerations for facility owners

The panel also discussed how potential owners looking to install a new facility can ensure that it meets the technical rules and the requirements of World Athletics and their Member Federations, as well as the importance of venue conditions and legacy projects when it comes to awarding European Athletics events.

Christian Milz emphasised that European Athletics first and foremost needs information about new projects, and that project leaders should also liaise closely with Member Federations to ensure that their facility meets the necessary requirements for holding competitions and activities.

"Then the technical side is very important. That also applies to the tracks, of course. We also look closely at the heritage of the track manufacturers, because we want the best conditions for the athletes," aid Milz.

"The long-term objective of projects is another important criterion for us. We don't want a one-off event that has no lasting perspective. We can make good recommendations for the development of projects. In the end, we issue certifications for projects," he added.

The competition surfaces of the future

Steffen Willwacher discussed his field of research and how it relates to athletes competing in different events having very different requirements for the competition surface. He argued that the surfaces of the future could be adapted to the specific disciplines executed on them - a view echoed by Kevin Young.

Mr Milz also gave his thoughts on World Athletics’ decision to introduce a new short track product, no longer confining the 200m track to indoor athletics, saying: “While in Europe there is a considerable number of indoor facilities, not all can host an European Athletics events due to the lack of supporting facilities and sufficient stands for spectators, so this new format can also assist to find more hosts for the European Athletics Indoor Championships.”

CONICA Panel Discussion

To end what was an insightful discussion, the panel was asked, “If you could wave a magic wand and forget all the rules, what three things would you like to see made possible when creating a new athletics facility?”

Steffen Willwacher suggested that, to make track and field sport more interesting to a TV audience: “How about integrating sensors into the tracks that provide more information that are of interest for the TV viewers.”

Christian Milz added: “Well, if this is for a 'magic wand' type of answer, I would like to see a rotating field-of-play so that spectators could see all field events irrespective of where they would be seated, or equipment such as high jump poles to be retractable from the floor, and a new system for the discus and hammer cages to be more ‘transparent’.”

“Secondly, I’d love to see a long/triple jump take-off board with a red or green LED light that gives immediate feedback on whether the jump was valid or a foul.

“Finally, I’d like to see more of the technology already used in track construction to enhance the event production with lights shows and video-mapping that’s not currently affordable for all – and new technology that can also be used in daylight.”

Perhaps the 'super track' of the future isn't so far away after all?


CONICA has been developing and manufacturing innovative seamless flooring solutions based on polyurethane and epoxy resins for sports, games, leisure as well as other areas for over 40 years. CONICA is one of the world’s market leaders and innovation drivers in this field.

The user-oriented requirements for technical and sports functional performance as well as usability while guaranteeing health aspects of the material itself and for the user are the focus of product development. CONICA is part of the Serafin group of companies based in Munich.

CONICA is a Preferred Supplier of European Athletics in the tracks and sport flooring’ category and is designated as an Official Supplier at events where their tracks are used.

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