By Paul Groves on 18/02/17 at 11:06 am
The atmosphere in the hotel reception was a little like the start of a new term at school or University. Old friends meeting; new friendships being made; reminiscences about the ups and downs of the previous year and the buzz of excitement about the new year and what 2017 will bring.
So many nations, so many languages, so many different walks of life but all joined and united by one thing – ETU.
Smaller groups formed and in the few hours that were available on the Friday afternoon, the beautiful city of Rome was explored. All over the Eternal City faces were recognised, greetings were given, hugs were exchanged and the scene was set for the 32nd Annual Assembly of the European Triathlon Union.
The venue for the Congress was the mightily impressive home of the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI).
As the delegates entered the building they were confronted by a sweeping staircase that took them to the Conference Hall. As they entered, there were gasps of amazement at the Grand Hall, dominated by a fresco that had been recently renovated after having been concealed beneath layers of paint for some 70 years. History is something you cannot remove. Stunning works of art should never be destroyed or concealed and whatever your political affiliations, there was no doubt that the fresco was an eye-catching feature of the hall.
The delegates took their places and the opening speeches began. First to the microphone was ETU President, Renato Bertrandi who welcomed the Italian President, Luigi Bianchi to address the national federations. A warm welcome was provided to the home of Italian Olympic Sport and to the ancient, historical city of Rome. As president of the hosting federation, he was presented with the ETU gold medal by ETU President, Renato Bertrandi. Renato then welcomed the ITU President and IOC member, Marisol Casado, ITU Vice President, Ria Damgren, Senior Manager, ITU Development, Zita Csovelyak, ITU Sport Director, Gergely Markus, ITU Chief Executive Chief Exec, Antonio Arimany and of course the federations.
The host of the venue, CONI President, Giovanni Malago, spoke of the history of CONI and how so many magnificent sports are hosted each year here. So many sports, so much history and how delighted he was to receive the National Federations of so many countries. He explained to us all the history of the fresco and was presented with the ETU gold medal as a gift by the ETU President, Renato Bertrandi.
ITU President and IOC Member, Marisol Casado, who has been present at each ETU Congress praised ETU President Renato Bertrandi for his continued support and hard work. She recalled memories of a previous visit to Rome when the triathlon family said goodbye to Emilio Di Toro in 2009. She then gave a very positive account of developments within the world of triathlon and the positive news of the moves towards the inclusion of Mixed Team Relay in the Olympic Games. She urged all federations to include in their race calendars a National Championships in Mixed Team Relay. The cooperation between ITU and IM has been positive and will build for the future; a clear signal of working closely together and building upon the cooperation is something that will benefit all in our sport. Closing, she wished success to the women who were standing as candidates for election to the ETU Board and underlined the hard work being done to include, at the highest level, women in the governance of sport.
With the welcomes finished, it was down to work with the Congress as the agenda was followed.
The first half of the day will be the hard work of the reports. The afternoon will see the elections and then this evening will be the Annual Awards Gala.
We will try and keep you up to date with developments as they happen.