In a sport which is normally about individual success, that philosophy is forgotten for three thrilling days when every run, jump or throw is for the team – and there is no excitement or drama like it.
Each position wins a point and every point can mean a difference to being crowned the champions, survival or even relegation.
Divided into four divisions of 12, the Championships has more teams than ever before, with Vaasa in Finland hosting the First League, Tel Aviv in Israel hosting the Second League and Tbilisi in Georgia hosting the Third League.
Formerly the European Cup, the European Athletics Team Championships first took place in 2009 and is held every year two years.
And for France, the omens are good, because in the last two editions, the home nation has been crowned champions – Germany in Braunschweig in 2014 and Russia in Cheboksary in 2015.
Along with the hosts, the nations competing in Lille will be Belarus, the Czech Republic, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Poland, Spain, Ukraine and the Netherlands. The participation of Russia is subject to the IAAF’s decision to reintergrate the All-Russia Athletic Federation.
Unlike the old European Cup, the Team Championships is a combined men’s and women’s competition with points related to position, sliding down from 12 for first place to one for last place.
France has had a consistent record, finishing third in 2015, fourth on four occasions and fifth once, and their sprinter Christophe Lemaitre is one of the superstars of the event.
In Stockholm in 2011, he set the championship record times for the 100m (9.95) and 200m (20.28) and either him or teammate Jimmy Vicaut have won the last four 100m.
Along with Lemaitre, France’s Yoann Kowal (3000m steeplechase, 8:25.50, 2014), Renaud Lavillenie (pole vault, 6.01m, 2009), the men’s 4x400m relay (3:00.47, 2015) and Cindy Billaud (100m hurdles, 12.66, 2014) also hold championship records.
When Lille Métropole hosts the event between 23-25 June, it will be the first time any of the divisions of the European Athletics Team Championships has been staged in France and while it was 21 years ago that the city staged the European Cup, that day produced an astonishing moment of triple jumping from Britain’s Jonathan Edwards when he cleared a wind-assisted 18.43m.
Competition timetable available here.