The 2015 Election Congress of European Athletics held at Bled

Bled, famous for its alpine beauty, captivating environment and numerous legends, hosted one of the focal sports international events on the Slovenian territory in 2015. From 9 to 12 April 2015, the Election Congress of European Athletics (EA) gathered more than 50 countries’ delegations and in total more than 250 most prominent representatives of European and World Athletics. James Mulligan, Head of Communications at European Communications about the collaboration: “From start to finish, excellent. It was a pleasure to work with a very professional Slovenian organisation with top-level personnel in each position. The cooperation was conducted in a great spirit.”

The candidacy for the Congress that was submitted in 2013 resulted in Bled being chosen over Budapest to host the event. James Mulligan found the destination to be a perfect fit for such event: “The venue of Bled is clearly one of the most stunning areas on the continent, but little known by many, so for people to discover Bled for the first time was fantastic. The hosts in Bled were very welcoming for all Congress delegates.«

At the Congress, new leadership of the highest European Athletic organisation was elected after 16 years. The 3-day event featuring the electing part of the congress and numerous supporting activities and events was attended also by the most important decision makers in the queen of sport, including Lamine Diack, president of the IAAF, Mr. Hansjörg Wirz, President of EA, and many sports legends who are now engaged in major sports organizations, such as Sergej Bubka, vice president of the IAAF, Lord Sebastian Coe, vice president of the IAAF and Gabriela Szabo. Luka Steiner, director of Slovenian Athletic Federation and local organizer explained: “We received several feedback from our prominent guests that this year’s congress was the best so far in terms of organisation and accompanying events. We tried to act as inclusive as possible and involve the key stakeholders and players in athletics. For example, we organised the biggest running for children in Slovenia, with more than 12 000 children running simultaneously at more than 130 schools all over Slovenia. Apart of that we organised several occasion where our most promising athletes and our ex athletes could meet the world athletic stars. We also did events connecting sport and business and organised several sightseeing events in Bled, Ljubljana and Postojna to offer the participants the best that Slovenia has to show.”

Delegations were situated at the neighbouring Golf hotel Bled and Hotel Savica, both operating under the wing of Sava Hotels & Resorts. Saša Zor, Director of Sales – MICE, about the preparations and personalized service for the event: “The Sava Hoteli project team made the most of its sales and operational experience due to our extensive related references. Communication with the organiser was regular, up-to-date, and honest – if we believed that Sava Hoteli would not make a self-sufficient choice when it came to the capacities or contents of a specific event component, we worked together to find a new, better solution. Throughout the process, we endeavoured to think outside of the box and come up with ideas that would impress the participants, since the event was also extremely important for the promotion of Slovenia. We exceeded expectations with small details on the spot – we prepared personalised welcome letters for guests in their rooms, served the best dishes made with fresh seasonal ingredients, provided all the necessary material for comfortable and efficient work during the conference etc. Based on the participants’ comments and organisers’ feedback, we can confidently call another Bled story of success.”

Luka Steiner agreed the event went extremely well: “Having talked to the delegates I share their enthusiasm over the whole event and hope that it will contribute to the positive development of athletics in Slovenia.”

The newly appointed Vice President of European Athletics, Frank Hensel, added: “My heartfelt congratulations to Gregor Bencina and his collaborators and volunteers. This congress was not only marked by an excellent organization, but also by a meticulous preparation and extremely competent and friendly volunteers whose language skills were really remarkable. I thank you for this most inspiring event.”

Mulligan concluded: “On behalf of all our colleagues and Congress attendees, I can safely say that I am sure the positive impression left on us all by our time spent in Slovenia means we would love to return to this beautiful country at some point in the future, either for business or pleasure.”

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