Ukraine has a fine tradition in the decathlon and heptathlon, but the country will host the European Combined Events Team Championships Super League for the first time in its history when the city of Lutsk – a picturesque city dating back almost a thousand years of just over 200,000 inhabitants in the northwest of the country – plays host to the event on 6-7 July.
However, as defending champions from last year when they won the title for the first time when finished ahead of then hosts Estonia in Tallinn, they will be assured of substantial support.
Ukraine will be hoping to field, among others, their 2017 European U20 heptathlon champion Alina Shukh, who excelled in the Estonian capital and notched up a personal best at the time of 6208 points to win over seven events.
In the decathlon, Ukraine managed to place two men in the top four to add considerably to their overall team score – which combines the top three men’s and women’s scores for each nation – with 2012 European silver medallist Oleksiy Kasyanov finishing second and Vasyl Ivanytskyy fourth with 7958 and 7801 points respectively.
Kasyanov is something of an iconic figure in Ukrainian athletics, having also taken a 2009 world championships decathlon bronze as well as world and European medals in the indoor discipline of the heptathlon.
After getting injured during the IAAF World Indoor Championships in March, Kasyanov has no plans to compete in a decathlon in 2018 but told European Athletics: “My plan is to be fit again for 2019 and although I will have to see how things go, the European Combined Events Team Championships Super League next year is something I would like to compete in.
“It’s an honour to compete for my country and an even bigger one to do so at home. I like the event very much and have competed in it on several occasions,” added Kasyanov, who also finished second in the 2015 competition.
As reigning champions Ukraine will obviously have ambitions of defending their crown in front of their home fans but Estonia and France, second and third in 2017, are also expected to send strong teams.Look out as well for newly-promoted the Netherlands, who can boast of an especially strong group of heptathletes.
The Netherlands were second in 2014 before being surprisingly relegated in 2015 but bounced straight back up after impressively winning the First League in 2017.
The history of the competition in its current format of a combined men’s and women’s competition is relatively recent with the first edition being in 2013 and so, strictly speaking, 2019 will be only the fifth edition of the biennial event but the European Combined Events Team Championships can trace its origins back more than 40 years to 1973.
Bonn, Germany staged was then the European Combined Events Cup final – with separate team scoring for the decathlon and what was the prevailing women’s discipline at the time, the pentathlon – with Poland and East German winning the respective men’s and women’s titles and nations qualifying via a semi-final stage.
46 years later, the European Combined Events Team Championships Super League is the one of the most important competitions on the calendar for Europe’s top multi-events exponents from the competing nations.