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A year of 'firsts' for European Athletics

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On Behalf of European Athletics, Director General Christian Milz wishes all our member federations, commissions, committees, athletes, coaches, officials, media and supporters a very happy and healthy 2015!

2014 was a very special year for European Athletics that saw a number of milestones for the organisation.

As usual, each year has two big 'peaks' for our athletes, and this year it was the four leagues of the European Athletics Team Championships in June and the European Athletics Championships in August. The European championships were held  in the “home” country of European Athletics, with Zurich playing host to our flagship event.

There were a huge amount of positives to take from Zurich: the excellent conditions for all stakeholders, the brilliant performances of the athletes, the atmosphere at the City Festival and the overwhelmingly positive feedback from the International Broadcasters on the back of a cumulative television audience of 358 million.

Our new website was the focal point for all communications surrounding Zurich 2014 – bringing together for the first time live streaming, live results, live blogging, news, video interviews and photos on the homepage. Indeed, the website saw a huge, record-breaking increase in global traffic during Zurich 2014 compared to the previous two editions of the event.

The website was viewed 57% of times from computers and 43% from mobile devices (26% smartphone, 17% tablets), confirming the trend of a shift of website user browsing from computers to smartphones and tablet devices. This shift was also facilitated by the mobile experience being optimised as the new European Athletics website is fully responsive.

The official European Athletics Facebook page had a weekly total reach during the championships of 3.6 million – the number of people who saw any content associated with the page. (As an aside, our Facebook page has seen huge growth in the number of permanent fans in 2014 with more than 130,000 now liking our page.)

Our new event management system ARENA came to reality in Zurich, and we received positive feedback on its capabilities from important stakeholders. It is proving to be a very solid system that acts as the unique source of information for anything related to our events and activities.

For the first time ever, as part of a strategic long-term plan with the National Azeri Federation, European Athletics visited Azerbaijan not only once but twice in 2014, firstly for a sporting event (the European Youth Olympic Trials) and then for our main corporate event (the European Athletics Convention) – with both proving very successful.

There were four “firsts” at the Baku 2014 Convention as well. It was the first time we were able to host a paperless Calendar Convention with each organiser able to enter their data directly into the system. This proved efficient and a great success.

We also hosted for the first time the Golden Tracks – a new name, a new brand, a new trophy to celebrate the European athletes of the year and rising stars. It was a fantastic evening with all four winners present and the gala once again shown on national television, streamed live across the continent and distributed to Eurosport, France Televisions and NOS via Eurovision.

A pilot Coach Management System Seminar was staged in early November to find ways to better support our coaches who play a fundamental role in the development of our sport. We will monitor the changes implemented by the participating Member Federations over the coming year to assess the impact of the seminar.

European Athletics also took an important step this year in its strategy to ensure that athletics is at the forefront of promoting healthy lifestyles to Europeans through sport by staging the inaugural European Athletics Health and Well-Being Conference in Marseille, France.

Another milestone for 2014 has been the purchase of a piece of land in the centre of Lausanne – the first step in building a permanent “home” for European Athletics. If all goes to plan, we hope to be able to move into our new headquarters in 2016.