It has been almost one year since European Athletics President Svein Arne Hansen died on 20 June 2020, part of a turbulent year which had a massive impact on athletics in Europe and around the world.
However, Svein Arne’s legacy is still felt at European Athletics and in all aspects of our sport across the continent.
This was most recently and publicly seen in the restructured European Athletics Team Championships, which Svein Arne was very much the brains behind, and which saw a thrilling Super League contest at the end of last month with the rest of the Leagues being contested this weekend.
Many of his other initiatives that he was so keen on, notably the extension of gender equality across the sport, have also continued to be developed and implemented despite the challenges of the last 15 months since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
“When I took over at the helm of European Athletics last year, one of the things I thought to myself was ‘I want to make Svein Arne proud of what our organisation can achieve moving forward’,” reflected European Athletics Interim President Dobromir Karamarinov.
“He left behind a terrible void, both personally for all those people that knew him as an individual that was passionate about athletics, and professionally as an energetic and charismatic visionary of what our sport needed to do and where it needed to go.
“Sadly, he will never get to see how we have picked up the baton following his death, but I would like to think he would give us a thumbs up and flash his famous broad smile, especially with the way that we have brought European Athletics events back to the athletes and public attention by staging live events once again,” added Karamarinov.
European Athletics CEO Christian Milz also paid tribute the legacy left by the ebullient Norwegian who led the organisation for almost six years following his election as President in 2015.
“Svein Arne used to say that he wanted athletics in Europe to be on every phone and in every home. It was almost his mantra, a personal mission statement,” commented Milz.
“In the 12 months since he left us, I think we have got much closer to achieving Svein Arne’s aim and have engaged with more people than ever before: especially the athletes and fans, and also the other stakeholders in our sport who Svein Arne recognised were so important, such as the media and our commercial and broadcast partners.
“Digital developments such our enhanced and extended use of social media, live streaming, a new website and other online services, especially those we created and implemented out of necessity in 2020, were among things that Svein Arne conceived for European Athletics, and we have since been able to deliver in no small part thanks to his lasting influence. He may be gone but his presence remains felt in so many areas of our lives,” added Milz.
To commemorate the life of Svein Arne Hansen and his contribution to athletics a memorial plaque was placed in the terrace of the European Athletics headquarters in Lausanne and a maple tree planted in the accompanying garden.
A plaque was also placed on the terrace in memoriam of Executive Board and Council Member Frank Hensel who also died in 2020.