What a pity AA cannot commit to a state teams based competition. The Australia Cup was a great concept that eventually was lost off the calendar because AA couldn't be bothered with it. After the relays were removed from the national champs many years ago, the Australia Cup was about the only opportunity left for state based relay teams to compete.
I think AA needs to make room for a solid teams based comp on the national calendar - commit to it for say 5 years at least so it develops its own history and athletes will seek to be a part of it.
Russian title defence under threat at European Team Championships
In-depth preview of this weekend’s action in Stockholm
Posted on June 16, 2011
by Athletics Weekly
The biggest multi-nation team competition on the continent returns this weekend in Stockholm and the battle for top honours is set to be a close one.
This year it seems as though all the high-profile last-minute withdrawals have centred around the one event that, up until last week, looked to be the highlight of the weekend – the men’s triple jump. World champion Phillips Idowu, world indoor record-holder Teddy Tamgho and 2004 Olympic champion Christian Olsson are all out. But if anything, it means the team competition will be even tighter.
Last year Russia ran away with the European Team Championships title with Britain finishing a distant second. Although Russia look set to be on course to successfully defend their title, Germany – winners of the inaugural European Team Championships in 2009 – is expected to push them all the way.
Meanwhile, Great Britain – hit by the withdrawal of Idowu – are set to finish outside the top three. The surprise of the weekend could come from Ukraine, whose women’s team could push the all-conquering Russian women all the way as they challenge for a top-three spot in the overall team competition.
Despite playing host to the event, Sweden could struggle. Even if they gain any extra advantage from home-crown support, they look destined for a finish in the bottom three. Portugal and Belarus also look to be in danger of finishing in the relegation zone.
According to Athletics Weekly‘s calculations based on current form, the overall final team standings could look something like the following:
1. Russia 353
2. Germany 344
3. France 320
4. Ukraine 311
5. Great Britain 309
6. Poland 272
7. Italy 252
8. Spain 224
9. Czech Republic 224
10. Belarus 202
11. Portugal 170
12. Sweden 140
Dwain Chambers beat Christophe Lemaitre with a sub-10 clocking last year, but the Frenchman turned the tables on his British rival at the European Championships in Barcelona. Lemaitre, who turned 21 last Saturday, has continued to put distance between himself and the rest of Europe.
While Chambers finished one place ahead of him at the European Indoor Championships in Paris, Lemaitre is a more renowned competitor outdoors. And in a low-key meeting in Montreuil on June 7, he improved his PB to 9.96, while Chambers finished a well-beaten fourth.
Lemaitre starts as the pre-race favourite on the basis of their most recent head-to-head, but Chambers has already ducked under the 10.1 barrier on four occasions and shouldn’t finish worse than second.
Assuming Lemaitre chooses to double up, he will be expecting to accumulate maximum points in the 200m too. He opened his outdoor campaign with 20.33 into a -2.2m/s headwind. British youngster Danny Talbot has been improving fast this year and could finish in the top three.
Conrad Williams was given the nod over European 400m medallists Michael Bingham and Martyn Rooney, and the Commonwealth finalist should go head-to-head with European indoor silver medallist Thomas Schneider from Germany, who opened his outdoor season with a PB of 45.56.
Based on depth alone, Britain should win the 4x100m relay, but the talent of European champions France and the consistency of last year’s winners Italy could see Britain finish outside the top two.
In the 4x400m, however, Britain should be able to pull out a victory as the level of one-lap sprinting across the rest of Europe this year has generally been poor. Russia, Germany, France and Poland are always dangerous though.
Adam Kszczot ran a European-lead of 1:44.30 in the 800m in Bydgoszcz and the European indoor champion from Poland hasn’t lost a race this summer. Britain’s Michael Rimmer is a late withdrawal and has been replaced by Commonwealth finalist Gareth Warburton.
James Shane, 21, makes his senior GB debut and the Basildon athlete – who has improved to 3:39.11 in the 1500m – could face a tough baptism with fast-finishing former half-miler Manuel Olmedo from Spain and Carsten Schlangen from Germany as the leading athletes.
Andy Baddeley steps up from his favoured distance of 1500m to tackle the 3000m and a Spaniard is again likely to be the main danger, this time Juan Carlos Higuero. There’s a good chance Spain could win the 1500m, 3000m and 5000m with likely top-three finishes in the other endurance events too.
Ukraine took gold and silver in the 60m at the European Indoors and its athletes are targeting a brace of victories in the sprints. Olesya Povh, who won the 60m in Paris, has set PBs of 11.24 and 22.58 this year and she lines up in the 100m, while training partner Mariya Ryemyen, who has improved to 11.21 and 22.68, tackles the 200m.
Through Anyika Onuora, 11.18 this year, and Abi Oyepitan, 23.21 this year, Britain is well represented in the sprints. But France will be strong too as European silver medallist Veronique Mang goes in the 100m and European champion Myriam Soumare lines up for the 200m, her specialist event.
Antonina Yefremova won the European Cup in 2002 with 50.70 and this remained her PB until last month, when she shaved one-hundredth from her long-standing lifetime best. In what is shaping up to be one of the most high-quality events, Yefremova leads the European rankings from European indoor champion Denisa Rosolova from the Czech Republic (50.84), Svetlana Usovich from Belarus (51.20) and British newcomer Shana Cox (51.24).
Since winning the European 4x100m title last year, Ukraine has gone from strength to strength and it will be a surprise if they do not win the sprint relay in Stockholm. If any team is going to finish near them, it will likely be Russia or France.
If there’s one near-certainty of the European Team Championships every year, it is that Russia will win the women’s 4x400m. After recent investments in the women’s 4x400m, Britain will have the chance to show whether certain changes of allegiance and event switches have paid off. Germany and Ukraine will be right up there too.
Jenny Meadows faces a tough test in the 800m. The winner from 2008 will face European champion Mariya Savinova of Russia and former quarter-miler Liliya Lobanova from Ukraine, who improved from 2:01.63 to 1:58.30 last month.
Ukraine is also fancied in the 1500m through Olympic finalist Anna Mishchenko, who has been one of the in-form athletes this year. Mishchenko, who won last year, improved her PB to 4:03.00 when winning in Doha last month. Charlene Thomas goes for Britain and is brimming with confidence after a good recent run in Watford.
In the 5000m, Helen Clitheroe faces last year’s winner Sabrina Mockenhaupt of Germany, Dolores Checa of Spain who recently improved to 14:46.30 and experienced Russian Yelena Zadorozhnaya.
European indoor silver medallist Olesya Syreva of Russia could be the favourite in the 3000m, with Natalia Rodriguez of Spain and Lidia Chojecka also expected to do well.
» The action in Stockholm starts with the hammer at 13:35 local time (12:35 in UK) on Saturday and Sunday. BBC will cover the action live from 1:45pm on Saturday and from the same time on Sunday. AW’s coverage is part of an 84-page special issue next week, with in-depth reports, behind-the-scenes news and photographs.