The European Athletics Championships in Zurich began this morning in almost perfect conditions, with sparse crowds that were surprising given the usual Swiss interest in the sport and a number of their own leading lights being in action in the heats and qualifiers. The sprint events should be favoured, so expect some quick times there. Also, expect to see plenty of the Games' mascot, 'Cooly', who entertained the crowd and kept their enthusiasm up between races. Cooly even demonstrated enviable hurdling technique before the women's hurdles heats!

First event on were the qualifying groups for the men's shot, with most of the season's 21 metres progressing to the final as expected. David Storl of Germany is probably favourite and lived up to that with the furthest throw in qualification. Not far behind him were Vivas and Majewski who look likely to have a say in the medals. Another potential contender is Lesnoy of Russia, but he barely scraped into the final. The Triple jump qualifiers also took place with a rather lacklustre set of jumps, although Evora, Donato and Dimitrov secured solid distances.

The first three events of the decathlon also took place. In the 100m, the Germans looked strong with Freimuth going quickest at 10.71 secs and compatriots Kazmirek and Abele also going under 11 seconds for good points.

Mayer of France (4th in last year's World Champs) featured better in the long jump with a personal best, but the three Germans also set either pbs or seasons bests to stay in the shake up for placings at that early stage. Dutchman Sintnicolaas and Kasyanov also jumped well to move up to 2nd and 3rd overall after two events, with Kazmirek the overall leader at that stage.

Meyer continued his form with a pb in the shot put later, which Abele matched to throw 15.39m. The decathlon has two more events later today and finishes tomorrow.

The men's 400m hurdles heats suggested a number of names to look out for in the semis, with Kudryavtsev going quickest at 49.05 secs and Konigsmark next on times.

Heat winners Barr, Magi, Flannery and the hosts' Hussein also showed well, in an event where stride pattern is everything, so little effort can be saved through the rounds.

The men's steeplechase heats suggested that the medals may well be between Zalewski, Tsenov and hot favourite Benabbad, who sauntered through his heat, saving energy for a potential double with the 1500m in the championships. There was also a sickening fall for Garcia, who caught his knee on the final barrier and was carried from the track in some pain.

The 400m heats confirmed that the medals could go to many of the athletes, with all three Brits running well to progress, Martyn Rooney looking particularly impressive in winning his heat, slightly behind another heat winner ,Dyldin of Russia on times.

Belgium's Kevin Borlee looked near to his best, but brother Jonathan only just scraped through his heat.

On the women's side, the 1500m heats illustrated why both Aregawi of Sweden and Hassan of Holland (formerly Ethiopia) are expected to battle for the gold, as they qualified with ease from their respective heats. Terzic also ran well in the first heat to qualify, along with the British pair of Weightman and England, but Laura Muir suffered more heartbreak after her Commonwealth woes to fail to reach the final.

The favourites all looked impressive in the women's 100m hurdles with Billaud, Zagre, Hildebrand and Porter all winning their heats with something to spare. Bakker also qualified well and should feature in the later rounds.

Likewise, the first round of the 100m had few surprises, with heptathlete convert Schippers running a quick 11.10secs timing into a headwind, followed by an Euro best equalling time of 11.03 from Soumare of France. Not far behind (timewise) were other heat winners, Lalova, Sailer and the home country's Kambundji, who set a National record. The Brits, Henry, Philip and Nelson all progressed with good times.

There were other qualifying pools in the women's pole vault and javelin during the morning, with few surprises. In the pole vault, Svobodova, Kiriakopoulou and Sidorova were all among those clear at 4.45m. In the javelin, Spotakova, Stahl and Britain team captain Sayers all made the final, along with the leading qualifier Ratej of Slovakia.