Bringing institutions, the sporting world and young people into dialogue to tell the story of the value of major sporting events in the process of European integration: this was the goal of the 'Sport Unites Europe' debate which was held on Wednesday (15) in Rome.
The event was sponsored by the EuroRoma 2024 Foundation, the organisers of the Roma 2024 European Athletics Championships from 7-12 June, in collaboration with the European Commission Representation in Italy and the European Parliament Office in Italy.
Andrew Howe, European indoor and outdoor long jump champion, was one of the main speakers and he recounted the different experiences from his glorious career which was also highlighted by his silver medal from the 2007 World Athletics Championships in Osaka.
And he also revealed his desire to close his career at the European Athletics Championships in Rome next June when he will be 39 years old.
"I have had the privilege of participating in so many international events and to win gold twice at the European level. In athletics competitions, there are no boundaries and you can compare yourself with so many guys from different backgrounds, but who have the same dreams and goals as you.
"Now I have to honour a promise I made to my mum: to close my career at the European Athletics Championships here in Rome, and I'm giving it my all to achieve that goal," said Howe who still holds the Italian long jump record with 8.47m.
Roma 2024 to be a truly international event
EuroRoma 2024 Foundation General Director Paolo Carito also updated an engaged audience on the progress for the upcoming European Athletics Championships, highlighting the volunteers who will help to organise the event which will be the first time Rome has staged the biennial event since 1974.
"About 25 percent of the requests we received came from countries outside Italy, and we are preparing to form an international team of young volunteers who will make a vital contribution to the success of the event. Also, we expect the attendance of many sports fans from all over Europe in the stands of the Olympic Stadium," said Carito.
The seminar was opened by European Parliament Vice President Pina Picierno who also hopes the Roma 2024 European Athletics Championships will be a force for good in encouraging and inspiring the public - and especially the younger generation - to adopt healthier and more physically active lifestyles.
"Organising and hosting an international event such as the European Athletics Championships will allow Italy to start paths to raise awareness, especially among the younger generations, about the importance of physical activity, precisely at a time when our country and most European countries are registering a worrying increase in sedentariness with serious effects on both physical and mental health.
“The appointment in Rome will therefore be an opportunity to reconnect a piece of our country to sport and in particular to a historical discipline with wide penetration capacity such as athletics," he said.