Wirz eager to develop Cross Country
As the 12th SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Tilburg approach, Hansjörg Wirz, the President of the European Athletic Association, has stressed
the enduring value of a discipline that has development possibilities outside of
Europe’s traditional powers.
“Cross country still has value,” said Wirz, “but it is very important to ensure that it remains vibrant. Climatic conditions are not the same everywhere in Europe and running in snow is not an easy thing to do, but we need to increase the possibilities for development in other parts of Europe.”
Wirz views cross country as part of a drive to improve the standard of distance running in Europe. “20 years ago cross country had a greater importance but then road running came through strongly and took away some of the interest in cross country. However, we need both; declining interest in cross country running cannot be compensated for by an increased interest in road running.”
The inaugural European Cross Country Championships at Alnwick in 1994 were the EAA’s response to declining interest – and the growing dominance of the World Cross Country Championships by African runners.
“The Europeans needed motivation, Wirz explained. “Acitvities have been increased in order to get European athletes into a better position at world level. We need to keep Europe strong – it’s very important.”
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