The European Athletics Team Championships will start today in Finland where the Turkish national athletics team is seeking a promotion to the Super League after being relegated in 2015.
Twelve countries will be fighting for a place in the top three to make their way up to the European Athletics Team Championships Super League. The teams ranked in the last three spots will be relegated to the second league.
Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Switzerland, Sweden and Turkey will compete today, June 23 to June 25, with one athlete in one branch each in the women and men's categories.
At the other end of the table on that occasion, 2015 hosts Greece finished second on their home soil to secure their promotion back to the Super League. Meanwhile, Finland will be looking to follow their example when the competition starts at the Karl's Stadium in Vaasa today.
Turkey missed out on promotion back to the Super League two years ago but they have named a strong team with prospects across the program. Unbeaten this season in the 100m and 200m sprint, Ramil Guliyev is expected to claim maximum points in the longer sprint while European cross country champion Aras Kaya will contest the 3,000m steeplechase.
On the in-field, 20-year-old Eda Tuğsuz holds the world-lead in the women's javelin with 67.21 meters. The standout name on the hosts' Finnish team is former world javelin champion Tero Pitkamaki, who is still going strong at the age of 34. Pitkamaki has surpassed the 83 meter-line in his five competitions this season but he will need to be in this shape to ensure maximum points as Estonia's Magnus Kirt only narrowly trails the Finn on the season's list with his season best of 84.08 meters.
Maximum points again in Vaasa this weekend will be a boon to his country's bid for promotion back to the next Super League which will held in Bydgoszcz, Poland, in 2019.
The race of the weekend is set to be the 400m hurdles, which features three of the top six finishers from the Olympic Games, Turkey's reigning European champion Yasmani Copello, Ireland's Thomas Barr and Estonia's Rasmus Magi, along with 2014 European champion Kariem Hussein from Switzerland.
However, the pre-race favorite will be Norway's Karsten Warholm, arguably the world's best 400m hurdler. Fresh from wins in Oslo and Stockholm, Karsten Warholm will compete for Norway.
Henrik Ingebrigtsen has been forced to cancel the rest of his season due to a hamstring injury but 2016 European champion Filip Ingebrigtsen will be lining up in the 100m while younger brother Jakob, who is already a 3:56 miler at the age of 16 and holds the world age-best for the distance, will step up to the 500m where he will face Turkey's Ali Kaya and Switzerland's Julian Wanders, another emerging prospect of Europe's distance runners.
Isabelle Pedersen just missed out on victory, and a national record, in the 100m hurdles in the Oslo but she is expected to bolster Norway's promotion bid with maximum points in the 100m hurdles while Karoline Bjerkeli Grovdal will contest the 100m in Vaasa.
Not only are there promotion places up for grabs, Scandinavian pride is also at stake with Sweden also competing in the First League. Daniel Stahl has been in brilliant form on the Diamond League circuit and goes head-to-head with Belgium's world and European silver medalist Philip Milanov in the discus while Meraf Bahta and Michel Torneus are the favorites in the women's 30,00m and long jump respectively.
Switzerland finished eighth in Heraklion two years ago but they will be looking to improve on that showing in Vaasa. Their team is particularly strong on the track with Mujinga Kambundji (200m), Lea Sprunger (400m), Selina Buchel (800m) and Petra Fontanive (400m hurdles) while in-form Fabienne Schlumpf will be one of the busiest athletes of the weekend as she will attempt a 3000m steeplechase/5000m double.
Ivet Lalova-Collio will be aiming to achieve a sprint double for newly promoted Bulgaria, who can also boast of Rio women's high jump silver medalist Mirela Demireva, while Denmark were also promoted from the Second League in 2015 and have in their team the 2016 European 400m hurdles champion and Rio silver medalist Sara Slott Petersen.
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