The newly revamped IAAF / VTB Bank Continental Cup is just around the corner and teams from Africa, Americas, Asia/Pacific and Europe are ready to taken on the challenge to win the first IAAF Continental Cup trophy.
Let's take a look at the men's events...
Sprints and Hurdles
The men’s 100m may be minus some of the events superstars, but with European champion Christophe Lemaitre representing his continent the race is anything but dull. The 20-year-old French athlete landed the sprint double in Barcelona and with a lifetime best of 9.97 - recorded in Rieti - he will be the man to beat.
Opposition will be strong, though, led by the Americas challenge. Antigua’s World Indoor 60m bronze medallist Daniel Bailey has run 10.00 this season and will be a factor as will be his team-mate in Split, Monzavous Edwards of the US (10.00). The twin African assault is led by their continental champion Ben Youssef Meite (10.08) of the Ivory Coast and bolstered by Ghana's evergreen Aziz Zakari (10.12).
Wallace Spearmon will be clear favourite to score maximum points for the Americans in the 200m. The US athlete and 2009 World 200m bronze medallist ran a blistering 19.79 time in Zurich and appears to be reaching peak form.
His main opposition may come from his America's team-mate Churandy Martina (20.08) of the Netherlands Antilles, the man who crossed the line second at the 2008 Beijing Olympic final before he was disqualified for running out his lane.
Europe is represented by the silver and bronze medallists at their continental championships in Barcelona; Christian Malcolm of Great Britain (20.38) and France’s Martial Mbandjock (20.38). Amr Ibrahim Mostafa Seoud (20.36) of Egypt and Meite (20.39), the one-two from July's African Championships, compete for their continent.
The Americas will expect maximum points in the 400m from former world and Olympic champion Jeremy Wariner. The US quarter-miler ran a scintillating world leading 44.13 in Zurich and looks to stand head and shoulders above his rivals. His main threat is likely to come from his Americas team-mate, Ricardo Chambers (44.54) of Jamaica. Other contenders include African champion Mohamed Khouaja (44.98) of Liberia and the European duo Jonathan Borlee of Belgium (45.08) and Great Britain’s Michael Bingham (44.88).
The Americas will be expected to dominate the men’s 110m Hurdles, led by all-conquering David Oliver. The muscular ever-smiling US athlete has enjoyed a near perfect season, regularly dipping below 13-seconds and recording a stunning lifetime best of 12.89 – within 0.02 of the World record – in Paris. The European pair Andy Turner of Great Britain (13.28) and France’s Garfield Darien (13.34), the one-two at the European Championships, and China’s Donpeng Shi (ASP), fifth at the 2007 World Championships, will be the main opposition.
Bershawn Jackson and Javier Culson represent a powerful twin force for the Americas in the 400m Hurdles. Jackson, of the USA, is the world No.1 (47.32) and a deserved winner of the Diamond League title, Culson, the 2009 World silver medallist, will also fancy his chances after setting a Puerto Rican record of 47.72 earlier this season. Expect their main opposition to come from British athlete David Greene (EUR), the European champion, and African gold medallist LJ Van Zyl (AFR) of South Africa.
Middle and long distance
All eyes will be on Kenya's David Rudisha the stand out athlete of 2010, so far. The 6ft 3ins tall Kenyan trimmed 0.02 from Wilson's Kipketer's World 800m record with a stunning 1:41.09 run in Berlin before running an astonishing 1:41.01 in Rieti last Sunday; he will be expected to claim maximum points for Africa in Split.
Among his main opposition will be European duo Marcin Lewandowski (1:44.30) of Poland and Michael Rimmer of Great Britain (1:43.89) – the one-two at the European Championships. US champion Nick Symmonds of the Americas (1:43.76) could also be a threat.
Africa's boast a powerful three-man team in the 1500m led by Olympic champion Asbel Kiprop of Kenya, who will be confident of adding another title to his already impressive list. African Championships silver medallist Amine Laalou of Morocco (3:29.53) is the second fastest on the 2010 World Lists and is another danger as is Ethiopia’s consistent Mekonnen Gebremedhin (3:31.57). The main challenge to African dominance could come from 20-year-old Australia prodigy Ryan Gregson (ASP), who set a national record 3:31.06 in Monaco. Other dangers include US athlete Lopez Lomong (AME) and European champion Arturo Casado of Spain.
Bernard Lagat of the Americas will be among the main contenders in the 3000m. The US athlete is World Indoor champion for the distance and as a former 1500m and 5000m World champion many regard the seven-and-a-half lap distance as his ideal trip. His chief threat is likely to be Ethiopia's world leader Tariku Bekele (AFR), who recorded a blistering 7:28.99 in Berlin. Other notables include; European 5000m and 10,000m champion Mo Farah of Great Britain and the second-string African Vincent Yator of Kenya.
Lagat (AME) and Farah (EUR) are both also in 5000m action and the pair will again expect their chief threat to come from a three-pronged African challenge. Diamond League winner, Imane Merga of Ethiopia, will be full of confidence after a supreme year. African champion Edwin Soi of Kenya will also fancy his chances as will Moses Kipsiro of Uganda, a former World 5000m bronze medallist.
With the IAAF Continental Cup adopting a rule of one country per event, the lone Kenyan in the three-man African team for the 3000m steeplechase is Richard Mateelong, the World silver and Olympic bronze medallist. Predictably, he will be a major threat, but he might not have matters all his own way. His fellow African Benjamin Kiplagat of Uganda (8:03.81) and the third-string African Roba Gari set an Ethiopian record of 8:10.29 earlier this year will also fancy their chances. However, the main danger to Mateelong may be Europe’s Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad (8:02.52). The French athlete landed Olympic silver in 2008 and bagged the European title in Barcelona earlier this summer.
Expect the Americas and Europe to be prominent in the High Jump. Favourite will be Russia’s European champion Aleksandr Shustov, who at his best this season has jumped 2.33m. Supporting him in the European team will be Great Britain’s Martyn Bernard (2.29m), the bronze medallist in Barcelona. The 2007 World champion Donald Thomas (AME) has showed glimpses of returning to his best this season and the Bahamian will expect good points. He is joined in the Americas team by US jumper Dusty Jonas (2.33m).
Renaud Lavillenie (EUR), the Diamond League winner, will be well fancied to snare maximum points in the Pole Vault. The European champion from France is the world leader with a best of 5.94m and has proved near invincible this season. World and Olympic champion Steve Hooker (ASP) has had a mixed outdoor campaign but the Australian is a formidable competitor and should not be underestimated.
Watch out also for veteran US vaulter Derek Miles (AME) and the Ukraine’s Maksim Mazuryk (EUR), who landed a European silver medal behind Lavillenie in Barcelona.
We have a real trans-continental battle in the men’s Long Jump with all four competing teams boasting genuine victory claims. World leader Christian Reif heads the European challenge following the German's impressive 8.47m leap to land his continental title in Barcelona. Expect World champion and Diamond League winner Dwight Phillips (AME) of the USA to figure strongly with a season's best of 8.46m behind him. The Australian Fabrice Lapierre (ASP) should also be a factor as he showed when landing the IAAF World Indoor title in March. Africa’s bid is led by South Africa’s respected World and Olympic silver medallist Godfrey Mokoena.
World and European champion Phillips Idowu (EUR) heads the contenders in the men’s Triple Jump. The British athlete is a supreme championship performer and if he can reproduce the form which saw him leap to a lifetime best of 17.81m to land the European title in Barcelona then he will take some stopping. Idowu’s European team-mate Marian Oprea, of Romania the silver medallist in the Catalan capital, will also be expected to feature. The Americas duo, Alexis Copello (17.55m) of Cuba and Randy Lewis (17.29m) of Grenada, also have chances.
The Americas will have high expectations from the World indoor and outdoor champion Christian Cantwell in the shot. The USA athlete has dominated the event in the Diamond League this season and leads the world lists with 22.41m. He will be joined in the Americas team by Canada’s Dylan Armstrong (21.58m), the fourth place finisher at the World Indoor Championships in Doha in March. Europe also provides powerful opposition led by continental champion Andrei Mikhnevich of Belarus and Poland's Tomasz Majewski, the Olympic champion.
Europe will be chasing big points in the discus led by Poland's Piotr Malachowski, the European champion and World silver medallist. His team-mate German Robert Harting, the man who beat Malachowski to the World title in Berlin last year, will also be a genuine threat.
The longest thrower in the field this year is Jason Young (AME). The US athlete hurled the discus out to a mighty 69.90m in March, but has struggled to back up this performance on the Samsung Diamond League circuit. Watch out also for Ehsan Hadadi (ASP). The Iranian has a season's best of 68.45m and finished seventh at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka.
In the hammer, Europe will again be expected to dominate. Slovakia's European champion and world leader Libor Charfreitag leads the way with a season's best of 80.59m and looks in good shape for the victory. Meanwhile, Italian veteran Nicola Vizzoni (79.12m), the silver medallist at the European Championships, should also figure.
The Asia/Pacific duo led by World and Olympic finalist Dilshod Nazarov of Tadjikistan (80.11m) and supported by Ali Mohamed Al-Zankawi (78.40m) of Kuwait could also be a factor.
Europe will anticipate another slew of points in the javelin led by the incomparable Andreas Thorkildsen. The World, European and Olympic champion is also the world leader with 90.37m and the Norwegian great will be a red hot favourite. His main opposition could come from his European team-mate, rising German star Matthias De Zordo. The 22-year-old left-handed thrower won silver behind Thorkildsen at the European Championships earlier this summer with a lifetime best of 87.81m. Cuba's 2009 World silver medallist Guillermo Martinez (AME) could also feature while the Asia/Pacific duo, Stuart Farquhar (85.35m) of New Zealand and Australian Jarrod Bannister (83.17m) should be respected.
A powerful Americas team combining top quality US and Caribbean sprint talent form a formidable 4x100m relay squad. Rising Jamaican star Yohan Blake (9.89) is joined by Antigua's Daniel Bailey (10.00), US athlete Monzavous Edwards (10.00) and Churandy Martina of Netherlands Antilles (10.03) as well as World 200m bronze medallist Wallace Spearmon. France led by Christophe Lemaitre will represent Europe and as their victory in an impressive 38.11 at their continental championships in Barcelona shows they will no pushovers. African champions South Africa (AFR) and Japan (ASP), the fourth place finishers at the 2009 World Championships, also compete.
Three of the world's four fastest 400m sprinters this year comprise the Americas 4x400m squad; US duo Jeremy Wariner (44.13) and Greg Nixon (44.61) and Jamaica's Ricardo Chambers (44.54) and so they will start clear favourites. European individual 400m champion Kevin Borlee of Belgian heads a strong European squad, which also includes British pair Michael Bingham (44.88), Martyn Rooney (44.99). A mixed nationality African team is led by continental gold medallist Mohamed Khouaja of Libya while Australia, the 2009 World bronze medallists, represent Asia/Pacific.
Steve Landells for the IAAF
IAAF / VTB Bank Continental Cup
Composition of Teams
- Each team will be allowed to enter two athletes in each event (three in the 1500m, 3000m, 5000m and 3000mSC but only the first two finishers from each team shall score points).
- Only one athlete from any one country may compete in each individual event.
- individual events: 1st: 8pts – 2nd: 7pts – 3rd: 6pts – 4th: 5pts – 5th: 4pts – 6th: 3pts – 7th: 2pts – 8th: 1pt
- relays: 1st: 15pts – 2nd: 11pts – 3rd: 7pts – 4th: 3pts
- teams: Points achieved by men and women will be combined and the overall winner of the IAAF Continental Cup will be the team with the most combined points.