Stuart Weir wrote this piece regarding the performance bonuses added to the 2024 European Athletics Championships in Rome, Italy. Stuart Weir opines on how this addition to the championships will influence the best of European Athletics. 

Performance bonuses at the European Athletics Championships

For the first time ever, athletes will compete for performance bonuses at the European Athletics Championships with an overall pot of €500,000 available at Roma 2024 this summer.

Ten performance bonuses of €50,000 each will be allocated across five event areas with an even split between the male and female in the following five categories

1) Sprints and Hurdles

2) Middle and Long Distance track

3) Throws

4) Jumps

5) Road (run or walk), Combined Events and Relays 

This is a welcome move,

Berlin 2022 European Champs, the view from the media seats, by Stuart Weir

as it always seemed an anomaly that professional athletes were expected to compete for the honor of winning championships.  Jumpers and throwers will be delighted that they can compete for an equal payday with sprinters and milers.

 

There is something else I need to explain.  The European Championships started in 1934 and took place on a four-year cycle – like the Olympics – until 2010.  Then, it was decided that there would be a European Champs every second year starting in 2012 in Helsinki.  The global program meant that 2012, 2016, etc, were Olympic years.  No issues for sprinters, but for middle-distance runners, it was a real question whether competing in three championship races on three days a month before the Olympics was a sensible way of peaking at the main event.  Certainly, the GB team policy has tended to be that even funded athletes were not expected to compete at Europeans if they felt that training and resting was better preparation for the  Olympics.  This meant that in some disciplines, the European Champion was far from the best athlete on the continent – just the best who turned up. This devalued the event. Incidentally, to solve that issue, Paris, hosting the 2020 Europeans, scheduled it after the Olympics – well, that was the plan until COVID scuppered it, and the event was canceled.

2022 European Athletics Championships, Berlin, Germany, photo by Stuart Weir

Speaking personally, I have attended the last 4 European Championships on the four-year cycle but did not go in 2012 and 2016 simply because adding up nights away from home for the Olympics, Paralympics, World Indoors, national championships, a few Diamond Leagues, I simply could not accommodate any more travel.

I feel very positive about the decision to offer prize money to top athletes.  Whether it will be enough to persuade athletes to include a European Championship in their Olympic year program remains to be seen.

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