Stephen McCarthy at the European Athletics Championships

European Athletics Championships 2014 - Day 1For this year’s European Athletics Championships Sportsfile sent our well-travelled Kerryman Stephen McCarthy to capture the six days of action-packed athletics in Zurich.

Here Stephen looks back on how he got on when following the fortunes of the Irish athletes and the competition as a whole.

Previews – Monday 11th August:
On Monday morning it was straight down to the Letzigrund Stadium to capture some previews ahead of the start of the Championships. With heavy rain downpours athletes took shelter for their warm up.

Day 1
Rain and storms were the talking point before the opening day but the sun was a welcome visitor for the men’s decathlon 100m event.

European Athletics Championships 2014 - Day 1

The headline act of the evening session was Jo Pavey, 40-year-old mom of two, who became the oldest woman to win gold at a European championships when she stormed to victory in the women’s 10,000m final.

Day 2:

Team GB dominated the championships medal table and Day 2 was no different, with Mo Farah giving an exhibition in the men’s 10,000m final to secure gold.

Day 3
The third day of action I finally left the stadium, an early morning trip to the city was on the cards for a change of scenery, and of event, as I took in the women’s 20k walk.

The picturesque backdrop of Zurich and short course make for some nice images.

I was soon back at the Letzigrund for some pole vault and qualifying action on the track.

The story of the championship came on Thursday night. Mahledine Mekhissi-Benabbad of France put the athletics world into a frenzy when removing his vest on the home straight during the men’s 3000m steeplechase final, a major no-no in athletics. He first received a yellow card before later being disqualified and losing his gold medal.

European Athletics Championships 2014 - Day 3

European Athletics Championships 2014 - Day 3

 Day 4

Today was going to be D-Day for the Irish team. World Champion Rob Heffernan was the marked man in the men’s 50k walk in the morning – but unfortunately a fast pace and world record time for French man Yohann Dinz meant it wasn’t to be for the Togher native.

It was also a very good day for The Netherlands winning two gold medals, Dafne Schippers in the 200m and Sifan Hassan in the women’s 1500m final.

But, hold the back page!, Mark English was to lift the Irish spirits as he nipped in for the bronze medal in the men’s 800m final.

Day 5

Saturday was all about the women’s marathon, with the athletes circling the hilly Zurich city centre course.

Later that day, the earlier start to the evening session gave photographers an opportunity to play with the harsh light spilling through the Letzigrund Stadium.

Ireland’s men’s 4x400m relay team became history makers today when they broke the national record.
And Belarus and Sweden sealed gold medals when Maryna Arzamasova won the women’s 800m and Sweden’s Meraf Bahta took the honours in the final of the women’s 5000m event.

 Day 6
The final morning of competition saw another early rise to catch the number 4 tram to the city centre this time for the men’s marathon.

The highlight of the final day had got to be the men’s 1500m final. It had everything including the trills and spills! It was delighted for the championships bad boy Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad of France but heartbreak for Ireland’s Paul Robinson, pipped on the line for a medal and Ciarán Ó Lionáird, who fell with a lap remaining.

Other notable moments included Mo Farah completeing the double winning the men’s 5000m and Antje Moldner-Schmidt of Germany winning the women’s 3000m steeplechase just four years after beating cancer.

And so after 937 photos wired it’s a wrap on another entertaining championship here’s hoping Ireland can increase their medal count next time around.


This was Stephen’s 6th major athletics championships assignment for Sportsfile and with the help of Nikon’s NPS service he  covered the championships with 5 bodies (2 x D4s 3 x D4) and 9 lenses (600mm, 400mm, 2 x 200/400mm, 2 x 70/200mm, 2 x 24/70mm, 14/24mm).