This is Stuart Weir’s assessment of the ROMA 2024 Championships and its effect on Paris 2024. The European Champs took place in Rome at the Stadio Olimpico from June 7-12, 2024. 

European Championships – an assessment

The 2024 European Championships ended with a bang and 32,000 in the stadium. Questions will continue to be asked about the wisdom of holding the event in a stadium you cannot fill.  There is also the question of where a European Championship fits in an Olympic year. The argument is that holding the Europeans after the Olympics will be an anti-climax.  Yet in 2022, the Europeans in Munich after the Worlds in Eugene (and for British athletes after a Commonwealth Games, too) was a roaring success.  If, like this year, it is held before the Olympics, many top athletes will skip it to concentrate on training for the big one.

France took sixteen medals in ROMA 2024, a good build for Paris 2024, photo by European Athletics via Getty Images.

In 2024, British athletes’ participation in the Europeans was optional – remember that many British athletes are effectively employed by the federation.  One British athlete told me that he had come to Rome for the practice of the championship format – races on consecutive days, no pacemakers, etc.  He said you can get one-off races any time, but practicing for a championship is different. Another told me she understood the mindset which led athletes to skip Rome “for me I was healthy, I’m in good shape, I didn’t really see any negatives about coming to Rome, so I thought ‘why not?’”.

Consider the top names in European athletics

Karsten Warholm here

Femke Bol here

Jakob  Ingebrigtsen here and competing in two individual events

Keely Hodgkinson here

Matt Hudson-Smith absent

Josh Kerr absent

Jake Wightman absent

Zharnel Hughes absent

Ben Pattison absent

Laura Muir absent

Ultimately, we will never know who made the right or wrong decision. We are in the sphere of “what ifs.”

What do we learn from the medal table?

Golds

11 Italy

4 Britain, France

3 Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Switzerland

Total

24 Italy

16 France

13 Britain

12 Netherlands

11 Germany

28 countries won a medal.

Italy did brilliantly. They exploited the home championship, persuaded all their athletes to attend, and the crowd played its part.  Britain made it optional for athletes to compete or not.  Twenty + medals for GB would have been easily achievable with “the first team” present.  France got only one medal at the 2023 World Championships, so 16 for the Olympic hosts will be very welcome.

Jakob Ingebrigtsen, Norway, won two gold medals in ROMA 2024, photo by European Athletics for Getty Images.

Germany again underachieved for such a big country—11 medals, 7 bronze, and a solitary gold. Let’s not read too much into the numbers. Three gold medals for a small country like Norway is impressive, but if Warholm and Ingebrigtsen had decided to go training instead this week, it would have been zero!

The European Champions in Rome were great, but they were not a big pointer to what would happen in Paris.

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