In addition to the very good overall results, the Multisport European Championships enabled Swiss athletics to achieve the best record in its history with six medals. Experts explain some of the reasons for the peak of Swiss athletics.
“Two wise decisions were made in the past,” explains Adrian Rothenbühler, coach of the Kambundji sisters in particular. “First, lower the borders of the international federations and no longer artificially increase them. And secondly, to make it clear that participating in the European Championship is a worthwhile first goal. Only then will the world championships follow.”
Swiss Athletics had to convince Swiss Olympic that Europe was the first important stage. From there, the group that was able to achieve results at the World Championships was formed. “And then we were lucky that models like Mujinga Kambundji, Kariem Hussein or Lea Sprunger came from this approach,” adds Rothenbühler.
When Marco Kälin, Annik Kälin’s father and trainer, emphasizes the development of small structures, he also specifies that it is necessary to show great commitment and a lot of personal initiative.
For Philipp Bandi, Head of Competitive Sports at Swiss Athletics, there is no easy answer to this: “Switzerland’s funding system has room for different solutions. The fact is that we are making more and more resources available to competitive sport, that we are making the trainers more professional, that we are promoting mutual exchange, and that we are looking after our athletes individually or in training groups.” In addition, the competition has also had an impact in certain disciplines.
Simon Ehammer’s coach, Karl Wyler, had to take four weeks’ vacation to accompany his athletes to Eugen and Munich: “There is a lot of volunteer work in Swiss athletics.” Florian Clivaz, coach and friend of Mujinga Kambundji, emphasizes the role model function of the best athletes: “Mujinga has shown, among other things, how an athlete can become a professional athlete in Switzerland. That inspired a lot of people.”
In four years in Switzerland?
In addition to athletics, there are eight other continental medals at these Bavarian European Championships. A sum (3x gold, 5x silver and 6x bronze) that gives Switzerland 15th place in the medal table won by Germany.
The Swiss athletes obviously appreciated the formula. “It’s a great scene for mountain biking and all other sports,” said mountain bike Olympic champion Jolanda Neff, for example. “I hope that the event will be continued every four years.” Stefan Küng, silver medalist in the time trial, adds: “The value of the race does not change, but the external perception is certainly different. It makes sense to sum it all up, it’s positive for the sport.”
The next European Championship is four years from now. The location where they will take place and the sports that will be represented there remain completely open. It is clear that there are few interested parties – the Swiss organizer Marc Jörg speaks of a handful – and that Munich sport has priority. A possible option would be to organize the event in Switzerland. Jörg didn’t want to get wet, but he allowed himself a few confidants on Swiss television: “I met a few people who speak the same language as me.”
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