Athletics: European Cup indoors in 2001

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The Independent Online
EUROPEAN OFFICIALS have agreed to stage a new indoor European Cup in 2001, according to reports yesterday. The competition is to be held three weeks before the world indoor championships at a venue yet to be decided. "There are one or two places who have already said they are interested," a source within the European Athletic Association (EAA) said.

The EAA and team officials from nations competing in last weekend's outdoor European Cup in Paris met on Monday to discuss the new concept. The indoor European Cup is to be held every two years over a single day. In 2001, the teams will be Germany, Italy, Great Britain, Russia, France, Greece, Sweden and Hungary in the men's event and Russia, Romania, France, Germany, Italy, Great Britain, Ukraine and Greece in the women's.

The former world long jump champion, Fiona May, has warned that British athletics could slump into free fall if action is not taken. May's comments came as she prepared for her first appearance on British soil since 1993, at Gateshead on Sunday.

The 29-year-old, who competed for Britain until taking up Italian nationality after her marriage to the pole vaulter Gianni Iapichino, fears the worst after last weekend's European Cup in Paris. "After seeing the Italian women's team beating the British women's team, I never thought it would happen," she said. "It's been six years since I've competed here, and you haven't changed one bit.

"You can see the solution in France and Spain and Italy. You have to get out there and change it. You have to change the whole system. But it's not just the athletes because the athletes can't do it all by themselves. You need the media behind them and you need marketing.

"You need people to help out, you need sponsors and you need to find a good source of funding for those athletes, and not just for the big names."