President of European Athletics, Svein Arne Hansen labeled the upcoming 24th European Cross Country Championships at x-bionic® sphere as exceptional during a press briefing held one day before the event.
“Firstly, this will be the premiere of mixed relays at any European Championships, which have already been incorporated into the program of the Olympic Games in Tokyo,” said the chief of European Athletics. “Secondly, the championships will be held in an extraordinary location, everything is going to be under the same roof, where future stars of athletic can meet the stars of today. Thirdly, Šamorín will welcome a record number of participants - 575 runners, from a record number of countries - 37. And lastly - I’ll be a bit personal here - Norway, which is a skiing giant where cross-country skiing is a religion, prioritised live coverage of the Cross Country Championships in live TV.”
Svein Arne Hansen, who as the chief of the famous Bislett meeting held in Oslo used to come to Bratislava to attend such well-known races as the Pravda - Televízia - Slovnaft, praised the organisational committee of the 24th ECH in Šamorín for their enormous work and effort.
“We thank the President of the Slovak Athletic Association (SAA) and the event’s organisational committee, Peter Korčok, his vice-presidents and his team, who organised the biggest European Cross Country Championships to date. History will be rewritten on Sunday,” said the 71-year-old jovial Norwegian. “Wendy Sly, Olympic silver medalist from Los Angeles 1984 on 3000 m, whom I can see among you, would surely be excited if there had been such amazing venues to compete at in her days.” SAA President Peter Korčok said that for Slovakia, even though it is a small county, the Cross Country Championships are a perfect opportunity to show that it has a rightful place on the map of countries competent to organise European Championships in athletics.
“We did everything in our power to ensure that athletes have ideal conditions to achieve their best. I hope that we will show ourselves in the best light on Sunday, so that we can host other premium events in the future,” added Korčok.
The Vice-President of the organisational committee and the head of the Board of Directors of x-bionic® sphere, Juraj Bača, praised the cooperation with SAA during the preparations for the championships. “I am certain that we will ace the test on Sunday and I hope that we can convince everyone about our competence, encouraging athletes to return to our Olympic Training Centre,” said the former Olympic medalist and 6-time World Champion in sprint canoeing. For the second time already, he mentioned the idea that x-bionic® sphere could host the World Cross Country Championships in the future, in cooperation with SAA.
The mayor of Šamorín Gabriel Bárdos smiled and commented that he and the people of Šamorín will pray for good weather during the championships on Sunday. “We are proud that our small town, which raised several Olympic athletes, will be forever linked to the European Cross Championships,” said Bárdos.
From the left: Peter Korčok, Svein Arne Hansen, Gabriel Bárdos, Juraj Bača. PHOTO SITA/AP