Hirz Re-Elected President of European Athletics as Council Snubs Brits

By Community | April 18, 2011

Switzerland’s Hansjorg Wirz was re-elected as President of European Athletics after he beat Norway’s Sven Arne Hansen by 28 votes to 22.

Hirz stated: “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. We now look ahead towards more hard work so we can live up to the expectations of our members.”

Meanwhile, Niels de Vos, chief executive of UK Athletics, claims that Britain will retain its influence on the sport despite its humiliating snub in the European Athletics elections on Saturday, April 16.

With UK Athletics chairman Ed Warner failing in his attempt to succeed former triple jump champion Jonathan Edwards, who stepped down after a four-year term, Britain were left without representation on European Athletics’ ruling Council for the first time since the organisation was formed in 1932.

De Vos was also overlooked for the Development Committee while Cherry Alexander failed to gain election to the Competitions Committee, while all of three of the officials that Ireland put forward were elected, including Liam Hennessy to the Council.

He was joined by 2000 Sydney Olympic champions, Estonian decathlete Eriki Nool and Romanian 5,000 metres runner Gabriela Szabo.

De Vos claimed that the decision to overlook all of Britain’s candidates, despite the fact they were asked to stand, did not mean anything – even though the snub comes just a year before London is due to host the Olympics. 

He stated: “I don’t feel any great sense of frustration or anything else.

“All the feedback we’ve had is very positive about what we’ve done and what we are doing and, where it really matters is at competition level, and we are very much still at the heart of that.

“We are still very much at the centre of the big issues. 

“I’m very confident that our voice will not be any quieter or any less well received as a result of today.”

De Vos revealed that UK Athletics’ priority at this Congress had been to promote its bid to host the 2013 European Team Championships at Gateshead and the 2017 World Championships at the Olympic Stadium in London, adding: “The feedback from that everybody has been outstanding.

“The important thing has been to get support behind those two bids and that’s been pretty comprehensive from everybody.

“I think the quality of the event we have put on here has certainly helped that.

“We know where we need to influence and we are confident that we still can.”

In other news, Jose Luis de Carlos of Spain, Karel Pilny of the Czech Republic and Jean Gracia of France were also voted in as vice-presidents of European Athletics.