CERN Accelerating science

Going for Gold!

On 8 June 2018, 55 CERN athletes travelled to Varese, Italy, to compete in the 16th Atomiade organised by JRC-Ispra over two days. The Atomiade are just one in a group of sports events organised by ASCERI (the Association of the Sports Communities of the European Research Institutes) which aims to contribute to a united Europe through regular sports meetings, bringing together members of public Research Institutes at European level) and are held every three years.

The CERN athletes joined over 1500 participants from 42 European Research Institutes, originating from 16 different countries in a range of tournaments and disciplines including athletics, football, golf, cycling and mountain biking, table tennis, tennis and volley ball. In some cases, the CERN teams were defending their title (tennis and volleyball) whilst other competitors were aiming for a record or a personal best, but all were united in their pride to represent CERN and their desire to (re)connect with old friends and new from the other participating institutes.


A team of seven CERN athletes competed in several different athletics events on the Sunday in beautiful sunshine, some despite having competed in swimming, cycling and trail competitions prior to the athletics event and won the following medals:

Gold for Marcin Patecki in the 1500m, Silver medals for the CERN Mixed Relay team (Marcin Patecki, Maciej Szymanski, Rodrigo Sierra Morales, Olivier Denis and Rachel Bray) Maciej Szymanski in the 5000m, Olivier Denis in the 400m and high jump and Hervé Cornet in the 1500m, Bronze medals for Rachel Bray in the 400m, 800m and javelin, Olivier Barriere in the 3 events (100m, shot put, long jump) and high jump. Whilst the competition was fierce, a friendly atmosphere prevailed amongst the fellow athletes from the other scientific institutes, some of the more experienced athletes trading tips on technique for their less experienced adversaries in the competition. The friendships made and team spirit we cultivated over the course of the event were worth much more than any medal!


The warm lakeshore of ‘lago Maggiore’ sets the perfect scene to play football and develops new friendships, proudly wearing the blue colours of the CERN football team. As one player said, “We will remember the atmosphere of competition and respect between the different research centres, the fair play, the emotions we lived and the people we met over the two match days.

Atomiade is a great tournament where people play while expanding their interconnections with other European scientists and share ideas."


The golf event took place at the beautiful Robinie Golf resort, which is situated 20 km south of Varese. The Robinie course is the only one in Italy designed by the famous Jack Nicklaus. The CERN team stayed at one of resort's hotels, which allowed them easy access to the excellent facilities. Almost 100 participants took part in the two days event. The course is exceptionally long and challenging and very few players were able to play to their handicap. The CERN team was made up of 6 players: Claes Frisk, Frank Cliff, Peter Jones, Bob Jones, Graeme Barlow, and Alasdair Ross. Graeme Barlow and Claus Frisk finished 6th in the doubles and the CERN team finished 13th overall.

Table Tennis

The team captain, Jean-Pierre Revol led his fellow teammates, Alexander Sharmazanashvili, Pierre Grandemange and Pawel Peksa, in to the 16th Atomiade table tennis tournament. Not only was this an opportunity for the team try and better its bronze medal position in the 15th Atomiade (2015) but it was also the occasion to meet rivals old and new. Competition was stiff this year, but the team managed to achieve a well-deserved 6th place out of twelve teams.


For the first time, CERN competed with two tennis teams at the Atomiade 2018, totalling to 13 tennis players from CERN. The Atomiade tennis tournament is a team competition and consists of the following matches: 1 Men's Singles, 1 Women's Singles, 1 Men's Doubles, 1 Mixed Doubles. The tournament took place at the Tennis Club CCR of JRC Ispra and was played on Saturday and Sunday. Each player of the finalists played an impressive number of 8 matches during these two days.

After having won the last three Atomiade summer events namely the Atomiade 2012 CEA Saclay, the Atomiade 2015 JRC Geel and the Mini-Atomiade 2016 organised by CERN, the stakes were high for the CERN tennis team.  Thanks to the outstanding individual tennis skills of the players and the great team spirit, the team CERN 1 (Bettina Mikulec, Ombretta Pinazza, Pavlina Trubacova, Alex Tuna, Andreas Wagner, Bernardo Bordini, Mauro Nonis) successfully managed to defend its title for a fourth consecutive time and came in first of the 12 participating teams. The team CERN 2 (Diana Scannicchio, Patricia Clerc, Alex Kluge, Fulvio Piccinini, Rodrigo Sanches Pedro, Viktor Khristenko) performed also impressively well and managed to finish in excellent 4th place.


The volleyball team CERN travelled to Varese with ten players, who composed a male and a mixed team. Anyone familiar with indoor volleyball (six players in the court at all times) would realise that this was going to be a tough job. The organisers made sure there were not time clashes and we constantly switched from the male to the mixed competition with many players having to play continuously. Moreover, some of the team members had not played together with the rest of the team previously. A recipe for disaster? Not for the CERN team that fought like giants and against the odds to reach the small final of the mixed competition and the gold medal final for the male competition; underdogs playing against the home team in a very animate atmosphere. At one point, we even had a championship point which, unfortunately we did not convert. It was very close and we finally packed a silver medal in our bags. Thoroughly enjoyed by all and the memories will stay for a long time.

The Atomiade events demonstrate that sport and science brings people together, they foster strong and long-term professional relationships and encourage a strong team spirit. All of the sportsmen and women would like to thank the Staff Association and the CERN Administration for their support of the Atomiade and also would like to encourage anyone interested in taking part in future events (Mini Atomiade – 2019, Winter Atomiade (2020) & Atomaide (2021) to contact and start training!

Links to photos / videos etc:
CDS Atomiade 2018 photos:
Atomiade 2018 video: