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UK Athletics

Jonathan Edwards elected to European AA Council

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UK Athletics’ nomination Jonathan Edwards was elected to the European AA Council at the continental governing body’s Congress in Cannes, France, on Saturday 14 April.


The world triple jump record holder and broadcaster received the second-highest number of votes of all candidates involved in the ballot.


He said: “It will be a great honour to represent UKA on the EAA Council. There are challenging times ahead for the sport and I look forward to working with the Council to strengthen our sport. I feel this combines well with my role with London 2012.”


Edwards’ election means that the UK maintains its proud tradition of always having had a representative among the continental governing body’s decision-makers.


The importance of the role was emphasised by his predecessor, John Lister, who has stepped down after 12 years on the Council but will remain on a steering group – along with EAA President Hansjorg Wirz, Treasurer Christian Milz and Competitions Committee Chairman Jose Luis de Carols – tasked with revamping the structure of the competitive season.


Lister, who was treasurer of the UK’s previous governing body, the British Athletics Federation, before moving to the EAA, emphasised that the financial health of the sport relies heavily on the successes at Olympic and World Championships levels of basically five European nations.


He explained: “Most of the income to run European Athletics – and, for that matter, the IAAF [the world governing body] – comes from the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and 80% of that income in the main comes from Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. So it is important to maintain the number of medals won by those countries at the highest level.


“It is essential that the efforts being made by UK Athletics to raise standards are successful. If British athletes ceased to win anything, you can be sure the BBC would think twice about supporting the domestic programme as it does. This is already happening in Germany; and it’s the same in Spain and very similar in Italy.”


But he added that each nation’s continued success, in the face of increasing competition from Africa and Asia as well as the ever-present quality of America, was dependent on “a more logical season of competition” throughout Europe.


“Change is needed,” he went on. “We have to revamp the entire meetings system so that it is relevant to the needs of the athletes.


“I feel quite proud to have got to the position where I can give a contribution that can make a difference for the future. I am delighted Jonathan can take up the baton. His contribution can be a good one because of who he is, what he has already done and what we all know he can do in this sport.


“I am confident the influence of the EAA is going to grow rather than diminish.”


Lister was made an honorary member of European Athletics along with his fellow retiring Council members Erika Strasser (Austria), Giorgios Constantopolous (Greece), Valentin Balakhnichev (Russia) and Irena Szewinska of Poland.


UKA's other nomination, Director of Athletics Development Zara Hyde Peters, was not elected in this, her first attempt, to win a place on the Competition Committee. She said: "There were a number of excellent candidates for this Committee and I am pleased that, whilst I may not have gained a direct seat, a number of people whose work we support and admire will be playing a key role."


Congress gave overwhelming support to the overhaul the competition structure envisaged by Lister. The Council was given a strong mandate to continue the development and expansion of the competition structure, which, subject to approval from the various stakeholders, will mean an outdoor European Athletics Championships taking place on even years, starting in 2012, at the earliest.


The added European Athletics Championship would take place at the same time as the US Olympic Trials, and would contain all standard stadium events (excluding 10,000m, Race Walking and Combined Events).


The championships would take place over five days and among the added innovations would be that qualification could be achieved by the normal qualification process, but, also, by performances and positions achieved in specific meetings.


The specific details will be finalised and publicised in the future, after negotiations conclude with the EBU, along with further consultation with the relevant stakeholders about the format, and satisfactory financial analysis on the proposed developments.


Speaking about the rational behind the proposal Wirz explained: "In the six months from August 2006 to March 2007 we organised both the European Athletics Championships in Gothenburg and the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Birmingham.


"However, from March 2007 until July 2010 we will only organise the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Turin in March 2009 and this is not an ideal situation from all points of view.”


Congress also approved the introduction of a European Team Championships to replace the current European Cup, which will be expanded in to a 12-team competition and will include a number of exciting innovations, in an attempt to make the event more appealing to a wider audience.


For full details go to www.european-athletics.org