As has been announced in the media on a number of occasions, Athletics Malta won the bid to host the second European Team Championships (Third League) to be held on June 19 and 20.

For this event, more than 650 foreign athletes and officials will be welcomed to Malta, apart from the expected interest shown by the international media, from representatives of sports magazines to radio commentators and television presenters.

Indeed, some of the competing countries are inquiring about the possibility of beaming live the event to television viewers in their countries.

This possibility is currently being explored further by the Local Organising Committee (LOC).

The teams invited to participate in these championships are Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Iceland, Macedonia, Georgia, Luxembourg, Montenegro, the combined team of the Small States of Europe and, naturally Malta, as host country.

As one can deduce from the list of participating teams, this competition will be of a fairly high level.

The competition will be organised in conjunction with European Athletics who will be sending various delegates to survey and assist in the organisation of the championships.

European Athletics seeks a high level of organisation and stipulate that, at least as much as 35 tests for doping are to be conducted.

This is set to rise due to some athletes performing to a level that is not only of the highest European standard, but certainly one in which new records are set.

The one to watch out for, undoubtedly, will be Kyriakos Ioannou, of Cyprus, third in the men's high jump in the Beijing Olympics and second in the Berlin World Championships.

Sprint prodigy Ramil Guliyev, of Azerbaijan, a world junior champion in Novi Sad last summer and another name to feature at the World Championships 200m final, is another example.

In fact, Azerbaijan made such a name for itself with its junior athletes in Novi Sad that it may well challenge, along with the just relegated Cyprus, who are also expected to field Eleni Artmata in the short sprints, for promotion to a higher grouping.

Meanwhile, Athletics Malta is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that the competition is of the highest level, investing in new equipment which will, naturally, be of a longer term benefit to local athletes.

One such piece of equipment was the new pole vault mat, a hefty investment by the association.

Other equipment, which will hopefully be used other than at the two days of competition will be the electronic scoreboard and a more modern means to compute results, that will announce starting lists, finish times by lane, reaction times, where applicable, and the state of each team at the end of each event.

Infrastructural tasks undertaken and now in an advanced stage are the general sprucing up of the track at Marsa, the long jump pits and landing areas, a new-look colour scheme for the spectator stands and an enlarged and better equipped gymnasium, among others.

Volunteers have also been identified to make this event, the largest ever to be organised in Malta, a successful enterprise that will make the whole nation proud.

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