Today marks one month to go until the eleventh edition of the European Athletics U23 Championships takes place in Bydgoszcz, Poland from 13-16 July.
The Zawisa Stadium situated in the north of the city will be a familiar environment for many competing athletes as Bydgoszcz also hosted the 2016 edition of the World U20 Athletics Championships.
Britain’s Callum Wilkinson (10,000m walk), Hungary’s Bence Halasz (hammer), Belarus’ Elvira Herman (100m hurdles), Switzerland’s Angelica Moser (pole vault) and Germany’s Alina Kenzel (shot put) were among those to conclude their U20 careers with gold medals on the global stage last summer and they will all be eligible to compete for U23 honours next month.
The European Athletics U23 Championships first took place in Turku, Finland in 1997 and the competition was added to the calendar in order to facilitate the transition into the senior ranks. For some athletes, this competition will be the pinnacle of their outdoor seasons but for others, this will be their last major test ahead of the World Championships in London.
Konrad Bukowiecki won one of Poland’s seven gold medals at the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Belgrade in March and the 20-year-old is fully expected to add to his burgeoning title haul in the shot put next month. Sofia Ennaoui won a silver medal in the 1500m in Tallinn two years ago and the world finalist is expected to go head-to-head with the precocious German Konstanze Klosterhalfen, who broke the four minute-barrier for 1500m in the Rome Diamond League earlier this month.
While the 1500m is one of the must-watch events on the track, the women’s javelin will also be eagerly awaited. Poland’s Maria Andrejczyk topped the world lists last season with 67.11m and the 21-year-old will face two of the world’s best throwers in Bydgoszcz next month: Turkey’s Eda Tugsuz and Croatia’s Sara Kolak.
Tugsuz, who won a bronze medal in this stadium last year, leads the world lists with a European U23 record of 67.21m while Kolak, 21, produced one of the surprise performances last summer by winning the Olympic title in Rio de Janeiro.
Poland won four gold medals at the 2015 European U23 Championships in Tallinn: Karol Zalewski (200m), Artur Kuciapski (800m), Patryk Dobek (400m hurdles) and Kacper Oleszczuk (javelin).
Bydgoszcz is the eighth largest city in Poland by population and is situated approximately 300 kilometres to the north west of Warsaw.
Tickets are still available for the European U23 Championships here.