How did the Kraków-Malopolska European Games fare from a sporting perspective? On the occasion of the 2nd European Congress of Sport and Tourism in Zakopane, a summary was given by the Games’ sporting director, Krzysztof Augustyn. – We could not have wished for more stars in Krakow – he said.
6380 athletes took part in the European Games, but most importantly, many of them were true stars of world and European sport.
– From the beginning, we said that these Games had to go up to a higher level in terms of sport, and they did. The following figures testify to this. 43 current Olympic champions competed at the European Games. As many as 149 current medallists came to Poland for the occasion. Mainly from Tokyo, but also from the Winter Games in Beijing, as ski jumping was included in the programme. In every sport we had a medallist from the last Olympic Games – enumerated Augustyn.
The figures quoted by the Games’ sporting director show plainly that Europe’s top athletes have taken the event very seriously.
– An example from canoeing. Of the twelve medallists from Tokyo, as many as ten came to Krakow. Mountain biking? Of the six medallists from Tokyo, four came to Krynica-Zdrój for the beautiful circuit. Only the gold and silver medallists did not turn up, as they were riding in the Tour de France. Fencing? 28 medallists from Tokyo. I could go on for a long time – he said. – I strongly believe that these numbers will strengthen the position of the European Games and no one will say that it is a second-rate event anymore,” he added.
We had 19 qualifiers out of 21 Olympic disciplines. Only sport climbing and canoe sprint were not in the qualification rank, but importantly there were 12 European championships. Maybe not everyone knows, but the Olympic Games are… easier to organise. If only because there certain numbers are certain from the beginning. In the case of the European Games, in many disciplines the competition was at the same time the European Championships, so we had to adapt to the regulations. Let me give you an example from mountain biking. Each country was allowed to field 8 riders. So, theoretically, more than 350 riders could come to Krynica. So it was only two weeks before the event that we found out exactly how many athletes would attend it. In the case of the Olympic Games, these numbers are known a year before the event or even earlier – pointed out the Games’ sports director.
Augustyn also assessed how the European Games venues performed.
– In Krynica-Zdrój, a downpour passed through twice before the mountain biking competition. Forty-eight hours before the event, practically everything had run off. Despite this, we managed, and the riders still remember the route, which was perfectly prepared in terms of technology but also safety. As a result of how the competition went, our competition manager, Sebastian Żabiński, was invited as an expert to pass on his knowledge of how to design and prepare the route – he said.
Augustyn also revealed that the president of the world taekwondo federation told his colleagues that the next competition should be organised like the one in Krynica-Zdrój. The triathlon or modern pentathlon competitions also received excellent reviews from experts. In the latter case, the horses and facilities were rated better than at the Tokyo Olympics. And that’s not all. – The president of European Aquatics was delighted that in such a short time we were able to organise two events of European championship stature in water jumping and synchronised swimming, which were ultimately judged in only superlatives, Augustyn concluded.