The Annual Congress of European Athletics took place in London this weekend with outstanding results for three leading Irish officials , among them Liam Hennessy, President of Athletics Ireland, who were elected to the Council of European Athletics. Hennessy won one of the thirteen seats available on the European Council – there were twenty five candidates seeking election. The only previously elected person from Ireland to the Council was Al Guy.
Pierce O’Callaghan was elected to the Competition Committee, having successfully won one of the four seats available whilst Nick Davis has been re-elected to the Development Committee.
Hansjörg Wirz of Switzerland as expected was re-elected as President of European Athletics for a fourth term at the continental body’s Congress in the British capital.
President Wirz was chosen to lead, direct and represent European Athletics for the period 2011-2015 ahead of challenger Svein Arne Hansen.
“Our Member Federations have shown their appreciation for what I have done in the last four years and have shown confidence that the future of our sport on the continent is going in the right direction,” said President Wirz.
“We now look ahead towards more hard work so we can live up to the expectations of our members.”
The new European Athletics Council members are:
Franco Arese (ITA)
Sylvia Barlag (NED)
Jonas Egilsson (ISL)
Liam Hennessy (IRL)
Frank Hensel (GER)
Dobromir Karamarinov (BUL)
Toralf Nilsson (SWE)
Erki Nool (EST)
Antti Pihlakoski (FIN)
Jorge Salcedo (POR)
Gabriela Szabo (ROM)
Salih Munir Yaras (TUR)
Vadim Zelichenok (RUS)
Pierce O’Callaghan (IRL), Jean-Pierre Schoebel (MON), Libor Varhanik (CZE) and Mikhail Butov (RUS) were voted onto the Competition Committee.
Nick Davis (IRL), Anthony Chircop (MLT), Milan Pedalo (BIH) and Erich Teigamägi (EST) were voted on to the Development Committee.
This was without doubt one of the best organised Congresses in recent years – the first time it was held in London – but though Ireland’s three delegates were all successful in their bids for senior positions no such luck for their UK Athletics counterparts.
All three UK delegates failed to gain a council seat, despite the lavish hospitality enjoyed by European Athletics delegates whilst in London during the Virgin London Marathon weekend.
The ‘Daily Telegraph’ reports that “the red-carpet treatment clearly did nothing to enhance the popularity of the sport’s UK governing body among its continental counterparts.
In what can only be described as an embarrassing snub, not one of the three UK Athletics candidates for office was successful in Saturday’s elections.
Ed Warner, the UK Athletics chairman, failed to gain election to European Athletics’ ruling council, leaving Britain without a representative for the first time since the organisation was founded in 1932 “
“The Telegraph” goes on : “And in a further humiliation, Niels de Vos, the UK Athletics chief executive, missed out on a place on the Development Committee while Cherry Alexander, the UK body’s head of international relations, was overlooked for the Competitions Committee. Not exactly a vote of confidence just 15 months before London hosts the Olympics, where athletics will be the biggest and most high-profile sport.
UK Athletics is putting a brave face on the Congress, claiming the weekend was a success in building key relationships, though the election results hardly suggest the country is awash with friends in Europe.
To rub salt into British wounds, Ireland managed to get all three of its candidates elected to office.
The news will be a big disappointment to UK Sport, the government agency that funds Olympic sport in Britain, which has made no secret of its desire for more British officials to be elected to influential posts in international sports federations.
But even more worrying is what it means to Britain’s prospects of securing the 2017 World Championships for London when the host city election takes place in November. Two rival bids have been tabled from European countries, Hungary and Spain, with the Qatari city of Doha also in the running.
The 2017 decision will be made not by the European council but by the International Association of Athletics Federations. One can only hope that IAAF vice-president Sebastian Coe can carry more support than his UK Athletics colleagues. ”, “The Telegraph” concludes.