By this time next week, the first ETU medals of the year will have been presented and will be making their way home all across Europe so that the winners can show them to family, friends, employers and sponsors.
ETU medals are symbols of your success; they are heavy; they look good; they tell the world that you are the top athletes in your Age Group, or that you are the best Elite, U23, Junior or Para-athletes.
The 2018 Etna ETU Winter Triathlon European Championships, to be held this coming weekend will see medals shared across a number of nations but let’s have a look and see just which nation’s Age Group athletes topped the tables in 2017.
MEDAL TABLE Otepää
The season started last year in Estonia, with the host nation taking the biggest haul of gold. Latvia, racing for national titles in this European Championships, were strong too and followed close behind, with Russia and Germany in third place. Germany and Great Britain managed to get medals of all three colours.
MEDAL TABLE Sankt Wendel
Next up came the long distance duathlon specialists. The incredibly tough course in Germany ensured exciting racing across the ages and once again it was the host nation that topped the medal table with 8 golds. Great Britain and France, with four gold medals each just edged out Belgium
MEDAL TABLE Soria-Sprint
The shorter courses for run/bike/run saw athletes from all over Europe head to Spain and to the medieval city of Soria. It was here that Team GB started its real medal bid and the medal ceremony was filled with Union flags. A massive haul of 11 gold medals showed that Team GB had true domination over the Spanish hosts, who came away with only 8. The golds were bettered by silver medals, as Team GB walked away with 12 and then, risking excess charges on their baggage, 14 bronze medals were added to the tally.
MEDAL TABLE Soria-Standard
Team GB showed that they were not just sprint specialists when it came to racing the standard distance. 11 golds again, ahead of 10 Spanish golds, were added to the collection.
MEDAL TABLE Bratislava
The ETU Aquathlon Championships have now taken on an identity of their own and are becoming more and more popular. With what seemed to be a purpose-built location and the added attraction of Richard Varga racing in the Elites, Bratislava was a huge success. The venue was easy to get to and of course, team GB, always looking for the chance to raced abroad, came in great numbers. They went home as victors once more with 11 gold, 15 silver and 11 bronze medals to easily top the table. Only Germany could show any real competition but the host nation managed to get a gold, so the local media were able to praise not only the organiser for his great event but to share the golden glory of their winner.
MEDAL TABLE Kitzbühel
2017 saw the first year of a separation between Age Group standard and Age Group sprint distance championships. With the increasing numbers of athletes wanting to race, it had become a logistical challenge to host both events together. First up was the standard distance championships and Austria offered a great venue, interesting weather and a challenging course once again in Kitzbühel. It was once more team GB that mopped up the gold medals, with a massive 10 winners. Germany and Austria, with 4 gold medals each, were distance challengers. The Norwegian Federation has adopted many of the strategies used in Great Britain to encourage age-group participation and was rewarded with a gold. The silver medals went to Team GB and again there was a battle between Germany and Austria, with the hosts just gaining the advantage. Lithuania came away with a well-deserved silver and bronze medal and we were able to welcome Cyprus, Malta and Ukraine onto the podium for bronze medals.
MEDAL TABLE Düsseldorf
Domination by the host nation was not the result in Düsseldorf as once again the Brits stormed ahead. With 12 gold, 9 silver and 9 bronze medals they were much stronger than any other nation. Germany did dominate with the silver medals and matched the Brits with bronze medals but these two races showed that the Brits, always big in numbers, deserve the medals that they win.
MEDAL TABLE Herning
Moving up a distance to the ETU Challenge Herning Middle Distance Triathlon championships, it was here that Denmark scooped a huge 15 golds. This clearly begs the question, “If your domestic athletes are that good, why don’t they race more internationally?” Denmark’s 12 silvers was again a clear statement of their power over this tough middle distance event.
MEDAL TABLE Almere
The ETU Challenge Almere Long Distance Triathlon Championships gave the Dutch athletes a home advantage over the pan-flat and often windy course. They came away with 4 gold medals and were matched by Germany and Great Britain. The hosts’ 7 silver medals out-stripped the Brits and their 10 bronze medals made them the clearly dominating long-distance champions in 2017.
MEDAL TABLE X-Du
Off-road racing is becoming increasingly popular across Europe and the world. We were indeed fortunate that our very first Cross Festival was held in a great location where athletes were able to enjoy value for money, super tough courses and a great and enthusiastic team of organisers. Transylvania and Târgu Mureș will stay a fond memory for those who ventured out amongst the bears and vampires.
In 2016, when the Cross Duathlon Championships were held there, a strong field of German and British athletes enjoyed the hospitality and they did well to promote, within their own federations, this event.
Gold medals were won by Germany and Team GB, five each. Spain and Romania returned with 2 each. It was the Brits who edged ahead with 3 silvers to Germany’s 2.
MEDAL TABLE X-Tri
With the duathlon over, the final race of the year for Age Group athletes was the Cross-Triathlon and it was here that Germany had a convincing victory over the Brits with 6 golds to GB’s 2. Denmark, Italy and Romania all came away with 2 gold medals but the German team, with a further 3 silvers and 4 bronzes, showed that when it comes to off-road racing, they definitely have “Vorsprung”.
So, with 11 ETU Championship races in 2017, the final table looks like this.
FINAL AGE GROUP TABLE
Team GB will always attend in big numbers but we have seen strengths and weaknesses. Domination in Sprint and Standard distance is contrasted to weakness in Winter Triathlon, in Middle Distance and Cross Triathlon. The skill and expertise on snow shown by other nations is not likely to disappear soon but with a gold, silver and bronze medal in Estonia, the Brits have dipped their toes into the wonderful world of Winter Triathlon and, led by an enthusiastic team manager, we can expect to see more of them racing in future.
Hosting a Championship event will always give a “home advantage” but that appears to be limited to getting athletes onto the start list, with the impressive exception of Herning, where Denmark easily led with the gold medals.
A number of home nations have been looking at the way that Team GB motivates its athletes and, quite simply, that system seems to work very well.
The Brits do not get their kit paid for. They do not get their travel, mechanic and massage services paid for. They pay for their hotels themselves. In order to be selected to race for their country, they go to qualification races all over Great Britain. These races attract big numbers and sometimes the athlete is successful at their first race; getting a great result that will ensure their selection. Sometimes they have to race more than one event to get that e-mail from BTF confirming that they have been selected.
This of course creates a solid base for events in Great Britain, with event organisers recognising that hosting a “Qualification Event” means greater prestige, more athletes on the start list and greater income. So, the desire to race for their country, added to a “trip across the English Channel to the continent”, is fed by and feeds on the domestic race calendar.
It works in Great Britain and we are now seeing examples of this structure being adopted around Europe.
2018 is still quite young and ahead of us we have a whole season of Championships where Age Group athletes, racing alongside the Elite, U23, Juniors and Para athletes, can go for gold, silver and bronze.
Good luck to you all – we look forwards to seeing your smiles not only on the finish line but also on the podium.
- ETU Etna Winter Triathlon European Championships
- ETU Powerman Vejle Duathlon European Championships
- ETU Tartu Age Group Standard Distance European Championships
- ETU Glasgow Age Group Sprint Distance European Championships
- ETU Challenge Madrid Full Distance Triathlon European Championships
- ETU Ibiza Multisport Championships Festival - Sprint, Standard Duathlon, Middle Distance Triathlon, Aquathlon, Cross Tri, Cross Du