Today (23) marks one month to go until the seventh edition of the European Athletics Team Championships begins in Lille Metropole.
This year will be the first time France has staged the biennial event but the country has hosted five editions of the European Cup, including the last edition in Annecy in 2008 before the event was replaced by the European Athletics Team Championships in 2009.
Lille also played host to the 1995 European Cup which produced one of the all-time great performances. Less than two months before winning his first world title in Gothenburg, Jonathan Edwards went out to a marginally wind-assisted performance of 18.43m - the longest triple jump ever recorded.
France has never finished lower than fifth in six editions of the European Athletics Team Championships and they produced their best performance as a collective two years ago in Cheboksary by finishing third. Home support will play to their advantage in Lille and the team will take inspiration from knowing the last two countries to host the event have gone on to win the title: Russia in Cheboksary in 2015 and Germany in Braunschweig in 2014.
Most of the country’s leading athletes have already opened their outdoor seasons in preparation for the event and world pole vault record-holder Renaud Lavillenie has showed he is back in form after injury forced him to withdraw from the European Indoor Athletics Championships in Belgrade.
Lavillenie has already cleared 5.83m this season and he will be looking to claim maximum points for a sixth time since 2009 when he cleared a still-standing event record of 6.01m. The pole vault will be one of the highlights of the championships as Lavillenie is expected to go head-to-head with European indoor champion Piotr Lisek from Poland, the newest member of the six-metre club.
Joint European record-holder Jimmy Vicaut will be in contention for his third win in the 100m after clocking a season’s best of 9.97 in Dijon last weekend while Christophe Lemaitre - the event record-holder in the 100m and 200m - also returned to competition after injury last weekend.
This year’s edition of the European Athletics Team Championships will be held over three days with the action beginning on Friday (23) afternoon. The first day will be made up largely of heats in the sprints and hurdles with the top eight finishers qualifying for a straight final to be held over the following two days.
The event takes place in the Stadium Lille Metropole and tickets are still available with prices for three day passes beginning at 27 euros.