On the same evening she was crowned women’s Rising Star at the 2022 Golden Tracks award ceremony in Tallinn on Saturday (22) evening, Greece’s Elina Tzengko has confirmed her intentions to challenge for yet more European honours in 2023.
“I already have a European U20 title and a senior title so I want the U23 title. I have two really important competitions next year: the European U23 Championships and the World Championships," said Tzengko, who became the first Greek athlete in history to receive the Rising Star award.
Tzengko struck European U20 javelin gold in Tallinn, a city she now describes as her lucky city, before graduating to senior honours just one year later on her European Athletics Championships debut in Munich.
In cool and wet conditions in the Bavarian capital, Tzengko was in blistering form. While most of her rivals struggled to surpass the 60 metre-line, Tzengko was operating on a different plane. She pierced the 65 metre-line with her second throw which landed at a lifetime best of 65.81m.
Tzengko won the title by almost four metres and at the age of 19, she became the youngest winner of the javelin title - male or female - in European Athletics Championships history. Tzengko credits a poor performance and a tough baptism at the World Athletics Championships as the catalyst to her senior breakthrough in Munich.
"I believe age is just a number. After the World Championships [she exited in qualifying with 57.12m] and the really bad performance I had there, a lot of people told me ‘Elina, you are so young, you can compete with the elite javelin throwers.’
"After that I went to the European Championships and I won the gold medal. When you train hard, you can achieve anything. From my first step on the track in Munich, I was so ready and I just threw as far as I could.
"I was waiting for the right moment here at the European Championships. I am really excited because after Oregon I told myself ‘just relax, you can throw a lot of metres, you just have to do this.'
"It’s a dream come true. When I was younger I was watching all these athletes on TV and I was telling my parents - especially my mum - that one day you will see me on television with all these great athletes and here I am!" she said.
The 2023 European Athletics U23 Championships will be held in Espoo, Finland from 13-16 July.