From time to time, we discuss which Estonia’s national sport is. Is it cross country skiing, volleyball, football or track and field? These are questions people are trying to find the answer. Why is this so important to a country like Estonia? We do not have the resources to support everyone. If we want to be the best in something, we have to make some changes and support more people who actually have the potential to reach the top. It is hard to find firms to sponsor you when you are all alone. With a group of people and a plan what to do to make it to the podium, it is possible. We have to sacrifice some sports and concentrate more on specific groups of people.
Right now, we have a sports gymnasium (high school) - Audentes Sportsgymnasium - in Tallinn for grades 9 through 12. This is an excellent way to prepare young athletes for professional sports. Audentes has produced many Olympic medalists in the past thirty years. Each specialty is guided by the best coaching and, in the past, youngsters did everything to get into the school. Now things have changed and many people do not want to go there anymore. It feels like we are wasting money because there are many more options now all over the Estonia and many students do not want to leave their hometown before they graduate high school. What happens with the student-athletes after high school is the biggest problem we are facing. More and more young athletes are leaving Estonia because United States universities are offering them full scholarship, which means free education and opportunity to continue your sports career.
The sports system here in the United States is working and we should take some notes and start working on the same model. When you are 18 or 19 years old, you are too young to have reached your peak enough to be one of the best in the world, which means you will have to have some financial support and sponsor. We have had so many great high school athletes who disappear after they graduate. Why, because they do not know what to do next. It feels like their only option is to leave Estonia if they want to continue to pursue their athletic endeavors, but what if they don't want to do that? In most cases, they have to find a job, go to university and then finally try to do sports. It is extremely difficult to make it to the top if you have to do them all.
This financing topic is very important to all of us, but I actually wanted to talk about why decathlon - why we should concentrate more on track and field and especially on decathlon. We have the European U23 Championships in Estonia this summer. It is the second big championship meet in Estonia in the past five years. Track is very popular for us Estonians. There are standards for every event and what is remarkable about this is that we have 6 decathletes over the standard of 7200 points. They are not just over the standard, the sixth guy has a score of 7497p, which means we have 6 guys at or above 7500 points when only three can make it to the championship meet. It's crazy to think that we have to say no to guys who can actually finish in the top 10 with their scores. We can also add Maicel Uibo here, who is only one year past the U23 age group, but scored an amazing 8350+ points. We also have two young decathletes who have met the standard for World U18 Championships. Again, they do not have just the standard - they have ability to win this meet. It would not be a big surprise if they both finish in the top 6. All these facts show that we have a bright future if we make some changes and find the means to support our athletes who are close to the top, but need one extra push to climb over the last obstacle.
I have had an idea for a long time now and I have tried this before. If everything goes well, I will make this thing happen again in the next 3-5 years. Somebody has to start from somewhere; otherwise we will not see any chances in our sports system.