A crowd of more than one hundred gathered to meet the IAAF Continental Cup Ostrava 2018 team captains at the IAAF Heritage World / Continental Cup - 1977 To 2018 - Exhibition at the Forum Nova Karolina shopping mall in the city centre - Video
The captains --athletics legends Colin Jackson, Mike Powell, Jana Pittman and Nezha Bidouane-- spent part of the afternoon taking in the exhibit, the first major display of athletics artifacts since the 2012 IAAF Centenary Exhibition in the Barcelona Olympic Museum, meeting with fans and members of the media, and sharing their thoughts on the weekend’s competition.
“I think it’s a good change for the competition because the world changes, and we all need to evolve,” said Nezha Bidouane, a two-time world 400m champion and captain for Team Africa. “The sport needs to evolve. If we want to be successful in the future, these are the changes we need to try. And this is a good competition to try those changes.”
Colin Jackson, the Team Europe captain, agreed with his Moroccan counterpart.
“I think it’s a very good idea for a new competition,” said Jackson, a former world record holder in the 110m hurdles who competed in four World Cups, winning in 1992.
“In Athletics we have our pure side, which is the Olympic Games and the World Championships. And an event like this, the Continental Cup, gives a chance to try something a little bit different and more exciting for the same audience.”
Meanwhile, Jana Pittman, the Asia-Pacific team captain who was also a two-time world 400m hurdles champion, weighed in on some of her team’s stronger events and confirmed she’ll be on the sidelines helping provide encouragement.
“I think we’ve got a good chance in the men’s 3000, but obviously with those new tactics that have been brought in to put more excitement into the race, they might need a little encouragement to make sure they’re in the final lap.”
Pittman was referring to the elimination rule that will leave just four runners racing over the final lap.
Libor Varhanik, President of the Czech Athletics Federation, also address the gathering, confirming that as of 16:30 this afternoon just nine tickets remained available for Sunday’s action. Saturday’s has long since sold out.
“Thank you, team captains, for being part of this new, innovative process and show,” he said, promising spectators “something very special” at Ostrava’s Mestsky Stadium this weekend.
IAAF President Sebastian Coe spoke of the importance of organising the exhibition in the lead-in to the Continental Cup, the first of many that will coincide with future IAAF events.
“If we don’t celebrate our history, then there’s not much point in trying to excite young people into a future in our sport,” he said. This first exhibit, he continued, “is a great testament to our history and our heritage. This is really the beginning of how we want to approach that celebration. Every time we have a big event somewhere, we want to make sure that we have things that excite and enthuse and maybe just help young athletes understand their own history and where they come from.”
“We’ve got a long history,” said IAAF Heritage Director Chris Turner. “These people truly are super human and we really do have to celebrate their achievements.”
One of the “superhumans” Turner referred to, Team Americas captain Mike Powell, has held the world record in the long jump since 1991. He said he was looking to the future this weekend.
“I was looking at the list of athletes - most of them weren’t born when I broke the world record,” Powell said. “So this is my chance to get to know the athletes.”
The next IAAF Heritage Exhibition will take place in Doha, Qatar, for six months ahead and through the IAAF World Championships Doha 2019.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF