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Gold rush for Switzerland at European Athletics Championships

Mujinga Kambundji
Mujinga Kambundji brought home the gold in the 200 metre in Rome on June 11. Keystone / Jean-Christophe Bott

Switzerland had the most successful European Athletics Championships of all time in Rome, bringing home nine medals, four of them gold.

Numbers don’t lie. They prove the boom, the peak of which has once again been pushed upwards. In Munich in 2022, Switzerland won six medals, had 14 top 8 finishes and came out 12th place in the medals table. Two years later in Rome from June 7-12, things looked even better: nine medals, 18 top 8 finishes and fifth place in the medals table.

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The Swiss set other records: four individual titles for the first time, two medals in one discipline for the first time (200 m men with Timothé Mumenthaler and William Reais), and a successful title defense for the first time (Mujinga Kambundji in the 200 metre).

In the space of two decades, Switzerland has gone from a nobody to a major nation in European athletics. The low point was the span between Munich 2002 (ten participants, one final place, silver for André Bucher) and Helsinki 2012 (20 participants, three final places, no medals).

The scouting works

There are numerous reasons for the upswing. Philipp Bandi, Head of Competitive Sports at Swiss Athletics, says that athletes who were successful in Rome were almost without exception discovered in one of the numerous junior programs such as the UBS Kids Cup. This is a sign that Swiss Athletics’ scouting works. The number of newcomers to athletics is not much higher than it used to be, but the density of talent has increased massively.

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According to Bandi, the new generation has learned how to win. Almost everyone who stood on the podium in Rome already had some success in junior categories. As one example, pole Vaulter Angelica Moser won six gold medals as a teenager.

The Swiss support system also allows for very different approaches, says Bandi. Swiss Athletics primarily provides funding for competitive sport, trains coaches, promotes exchanges between them and supports athletes individually or in training groups.

Behind every medal in Rome is a Swiss coach, Bandi notes. The time when many moved abroad is over. This also fills the head of competitive sport with pride. “We have successful, very well-trained coaches.”

The outlook for Swiss athletics is rosy. Bandi points out that many of the athletes in Rome are young and are likely to have two Olympic cycles ahead of them.

Adapted from German by DeepL/jdp

This news story has been written and carefully fact-checked by an external editorial team. At SWI swissinfo.ch we select the most relevant news for an international audience and use automatic translation tools such as DeepL to translate it into English. Providing you with automatically translated news gives us the time to write more in-depth articles.

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