Events & Meetings

Italy poised to challenge all-conquering Poland for supremacy in Silesia

  • News
  • Italy poised to challenge all-conquering Poland for supremacy in Silesia

Poland will seek a third consecutive victory on home soil in the Silesia 2023 European Athletics Team Championships from 23-25 June in the newly-formed 1st Division finale that will take place in the Slaski Stadium in Chorzow. 

But in the first iteration of the event within the framework of the third European Games in Krakow-Malopolska, the hosts will be hard-pressed to retain the title by an Italian team on a mission and bolstered by the late addition of Olympic champion Gianmarco Tamberi to their ranks. 

All three divisions of the European Athletics Team Championships will be part of the third edition of the European Games in Krakow-Malopolska from 20-25 June and will be streamed live through the European Athletics channel on the All-Athletics platform.

  • Final entries here.

Italy finished just 2.5 points behind Poland in 2021 despite not being able to field a competitor in the men’s high jump after soon-to-be Olympic champion Tamberi suffered an ankle problem too late to be replaced. 

Their latest team is formidably strong – a clear indication of their renewed ambition a year ahead of staging the European Athletics Championships in Rome. 

Great Britain, whose hopes of victory collapsed in Chorzow last time round in men’s 4x400m where they failed on a handover and finished third overall, will be expecting to do at least as well this time round. As will fourth-placed Germany, five-time winners at the European Athletics Team Championships since 2009. 

Bol one of 12 European champions to compete in the 1st Division

Femke Bol, treble European champion and Olympic bronze medallist in the 400m hurdles, is one of the marquee names of an event in which she will contest the 400m, in which she is the European indoor and outdoor champion.  

And having reduced the world indoor record which had stood since 1982 to 49.26 at the Dutch Indoor Championships in February she will have no concerns about her sharpness. 

But the Dutch athlete will not be able to relax against a field that includes home runner Natalia Kaczmarek, the European silver medallist and the winner of the 400m and 4x400m at the 2021 European Athletics Team Championships.

Getty Images 1415863092

Kaczmarek also has a marginally faster season’s best outdoors - 50.02 to 50.11 - but the Pole will be more than alert to the challenge that awaits her.

In total, Bol is one of 11 individual reigning European champions from Munich 2022 who will be seeking victory for their respective countries at the European Athletics Team Championships.

Skrzyszowska crosses paths with Hurske on the comeback trail

The 100m hurdles will be another standout event with home support behind European champion Pia Skrzyszowska, who led this year’s European indoor standings with 7.78 but was unable to contest the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Istanbul because of a hamstring injury, back in the running. 

Her opponents include the flying Finn Reetta Hurske, who won the European indoor 60m hurdles title in Skrzyszowska’s absence and leads the European 100m hurdles list with a recently-set Finnish record of 12.70. 

Also in the mix are Laeticia Bapte of France and Switzerland’s European outdoor and indoor bronze medallist Ditaji Kambundji, both of whom have clocked 12.78 this season, as well as two-time European indoor 60m hurdles champion Nadine Visser from the newly promoted Netherlands.

Getty Images 1416623159

Skrzyszowska made her senior breakthrough in this competition two years ago, winning the 100m and 100m hurdles but she will only be contesting the sprint hurdles on this occasion.

This leaves room for Ewa Swoboda, the 2019 European 60m champion, to supply maximum points in the 100m. Her teammate Anna Kielbasinska will have strong chances in a 200m where Dutch sprinter Lieke Klaver, a training partner of Kielbasinska, who has run a personal best of 22.51 this year, will be favourite. 

But the sprints will also be a strong point for Italy in the men’s events. 

Having secured the European indoor 60m title in Istanbul earlier this year – in a race that also included his compatriot and Olympic champion Marcell Jacobs – Ceccarelli appears capable of adding another accomplishment to his CV with victory in Silesia. 

Another bemedalled Italian sprinting talent contests the men’s 200m in the form of Filippo Tortu, who ran the anchor leg for the team that won the 4x100m title at the Tokyo Olympics and has a season’s best of 20.30 which is matched by Ryan Zeze of France. 

Maximum points would appear sure for Spain in the 1500m given the presence of world bronze medallist and European 5000m silver medallist Mohamed Katir, who finished second in last Thursday’s monumental race at the Oslo Diamond League meeting behind the European record-breaking local hero Jakob Ingebrigtsen, clocking 3:28.89. 

Getty Images 1409806556

But the challenge of two other rising talents will make this one of the most compelling spectacles on the track. 

Pietro Arese may have no family connection with Italy’s 1971 European champion Franco Arese but this 23-year-old is emerging as a potentially similar talent having broken through two years ago to become the Italian indoor 1500 and 3000m champion. Earlier this month Arese, who missed a European medal by one place last year, lowered his outdoor personal best to 3:33.56 in Bydgoszcz.  

Meanwhile George Mills, the 24-year-old son of former England footballer Danny Mills, is also in formidable form having reduced his own personal best to 3:33.10 last month. 

And further intrigue will be supplied by two of the continent's rapidly improving exponents. Only 18, double European U18 champion Niels Laros improved to 3:32.89 in Nice on Saturday, a time which has only been bettered by Jakob Ingebrigtsen among European U20s, and Portugal's Isaac Nader who has improved from 3:37.01 to 3:31.67 this year. 

Having lowered his 5000m personal best to 12:58.60 in finishing sixth in Oslo – more than 15 seconds faster than that of any of his opponents in Silesia based on season’s best, Burundi-born Spaniard Thierry Ndikumwenayo, who is making his debut for his adopted nation, will be a threat to Italy’s European champion Yemaneberhan Crippa, who set a championship record of 13:17.23 in 2021. 

However, Crippa is a perennial danger in tactical races thanks to his blistering turn of pace. He recently won the European 10,000m Cup title in Pacé earlier this month with a sub-56 second last lap.

Other Italian hopes for maximum points on the track include four-time European U20 and U23 cross country champion Nadia Battocletti in the women’s 5000m and Olympic 400m hurdles finalist Alessandro Sibilio.

The Italians will also have lofty ambitions in the newly introduced mixed 4x400m relay, the event in which Poland were crowned inaugural Olympic champions in Tokyo 2020, which closes the programme. Could the destination of the title even come down to the last event? 

Polish stars to hammer home big points in the field events

In their bid for a third title, Poland will look to their traditional strengths in the throwing events.

A mighty collision is in prospect in a men’s shot put that features their 2018 European champion Michal Haratyk, who will be seeking a hat-trick of wins at the European Athletics Team Championships. 

But standing in his way is European indoor champion Zane Weir, one of the many Italian hopes for individual victory across the weekend, who threw an outright lifetime best of 22.06m to land gold in Istanbul. 

Further home hopes will rest on the burly shoulders of Olympic men’s hammer throw champion Wojciech Nowicki. 

Getty Images 1415652469

And in the absence of their world hammer throw record-holder Anita Wlodarczyk who is still seeking her best form after missing last season with injury, Poland can call upon Olympic bronze medallist Malwina Kopron. 

Other throwing stars in action include Germany’s European javelin champion Julian Weber, who will be looking to follow in the footsteps of Johannes Vetter who threw an eye-popping 96.29m to win in 2021, and Sweden’s Olympic champion Daniel Stahl who has surpassed the 70 metre-line twice in the discus in 2023. 

The home crowd will be hoping for Norbert Kobielski to raise the bar in a very open men’s high jump and claim his second victory at the European Athletics Team Championships in succession but his assignment has been complicated by the late addition of Tamberi to the Italian team. 

There will be even higher hopes for the returning-to-form three-time world medallist Piotr Lisek in the men’s pole vault who won this event on home soil at the 2019 European Athletics Team Championships in Bydgoszcz.

But Lisek will have tough opposition from Belgium’s Ben Broeders, European indoor silver medallist Emmanouil Karalis of Greece and Menno Vloon of the Netherlands. 

European indoor and outdoor champion Miltiadis Tentoglou helped Greece to promotion with victory in the long jump two years ago with a championship record of 8.38m.  

A mark in that region is likely to be needed to ensure victory against the likes of Italy’s precocious double European U18 champion Mattia Furlani, Swiss decathlete Simon Ehammer who beat Tentoglou in Oslo on Thursday with 8.32m and Sweden’s consistent challenger Thomas Montler. 

And it’s the same story in the men’s triple jump, where Portugal’s world and Olympic champion Pedro Pablo Pichardo should be pre-eminent, although Italy’s Tobia Bocchi, with a personal best of 17.26m this year, and 2021 winner Max Hess of Germany will need watching. 

Mike Rowbottom for European Athletics

Official Partners
Official Partners
Official Partners
Official Partners
Official Partners
Official Partners
Broadcast Partner
Broadcast Partner
Preferred Suppliers
Supporting Hotel
Photography Agency