Alytus undoubtedly is the capital of Lithuanian race walkers. The race walkers from Alytus have competed for the honour of the country in Olympic Games held on different continents throughout the world, including Athens, Beijing, London and Rio de Janeiro.
The race walking festival, which is held for the 44th time in Alytus, is the one, having the longest history in race walking competitions in Europe. It is a highly prestigious event and attracts a great number of leading athletes from all over the world. It is a big pride for the city of Alytus to be the host of the European Race Walking Cup.
The year 2019 is an exceptional one both for Alytus and for the whole of Lithuanian athletics. This year we will celebrate one hundred years anniversary of the race walking in Lithuania and the organising of the European Race Walking cup is a precious gift and huge achievement for us. The best race walkers, the rising stars and the future champions of race walking will flock to our country.
The European Race Walking Cup is highly ranked, immediately after the Olympic Games, the World and European Championships. More than 300 athletes, coaches and team officials will attend the event. We will ensure that both – the organization of the event and the host city Alytus will leave unforgettable and the warmest memories for the participants of the competition. And that will serve a good reason for the highest level race walking competitions to be held in Lithuania many times in the future.
Race walking is one of the most important parts of the athletics in Lithuania. The first Lithuanian to receive an Olympic award in athletics was the race walker Antanas Mikėnas, who won the silver medal at the Olympic Games in Melbourne in 1956.
Nowadays, a successful story of Lithuanian Race Walking is being continued by the experienced, talented Lithuanian race walkers’ team. Two years ago, the Lithuanian women’s team received a bronze medal in Poděbrady. Last year, Brigita Virbalytė, who is from Alytus, finished the fourth in the European Championships in Berlin, while our rising star, Živilė Vaiciukevičiūtė, was the fifth there.
We hope that the home roads and spectators will help our athletes to represent Lithuania at the most important European Race walking event of the year.
We would like to thank the European Athletics Association for their trust and cooperation. We also thank the European race walking community, the athletes and the municipality of Alytus. I wish you a successful start, and I am confident that the organisation of the European Race Walking Cup 2019 and the hospitality of our people will leave a positive impression for all our guests.
President of Lithuanian athletics federation