Czech athletics officials were put through their paces at a test event for the IAAF Continental Cup Ostrava 2018 on Wednesday (6) with the region’s top teenage talent taking the place of the four continental teams that will compete in the third edition of the Cup on 8-9 September.
Decked out in T-shirts representing the various teams – canary yellow for Africa, red for Americas, grape for Asia-Pacific and blue for Europe – the athletes came from Zlin (Africa), Olomouc (Americas), the Moravian-Silesian region (Asia-Pacific) and South Moravia (Europe).
The top performance of the afternoon, which brought together athletes born in 2001 and 2002, came from the 16-year-old high jumper Bara Sajdokova, who cleared 1.80m.
Not only did Sajdokova, who hails from nearby Trinec, equal her best set indoors in January but she also moved up to equal-second on the 2018 European U18 outdoor lists and projected her credentials as a potential medal contender at next month’s European Athletics U18 Championships in the Hungarian city of Gyor.
Other notable marks at the test event came from Filip Wojnar, who won the boys’ 400m in 49.77, while triple jumper Jakub Kunt bounded out to 14.06m and Pavel Mišurec sent his discus out to 51.07m.
A key part of the test event, as the name implies, was to see how the local officials implemented the new innovative competition rules which will come into play at the Cup.
As already announced, each team will have a legendary athlete as an honorary captain.
On hand to play her part in the test event was Australia’s Jana Pittman, the 2003 and 2007 world 400m hurdles champion, who will be the Asia-Pacific team captain come September.
Part of a captain’s duty will be to play their team’s ‘joker’. Each team has two jokers to be used each day – one for a men’s event and one for a women’s event. If the team wins the event in which the joker is used, double points will be awarded to that team.
In addition, in the vertical jumps and track events up to and including 1500m, athletes will be ranked according to their finishing position (places 1-8). Teammates’ finishing positions will be added together to determine a team ranking, and then points are awarded with eight points going to the first team, six points to the second team, four points for third and two points for fourth.
In the 3000m and 3000m steeplechase, the athlete crossing the finish line in last position on designated laps will be eliminated, leaving four athletes to complete the last lap. A team ranking will then be determined by adding the finishing position of each athlete, and points will be awarded as above.
In the horizontal jumps and throws, every athlete will have three attempts. The fourth attempt will be given only to the best athlete from each team. The top two performers from the fourth round will each have one more attempt. The performance in that fifth and final round will determine the winner.
As these rules differ from championship regulations, it was important for the experienced local officials to familiarise themselves with how they worked in practice.
Linked to this, the IAAF technical delegates on-site witnessed how the scoring was going to be computed and the data from the events displayed in a fashion that competitors, officials and spectators could understand easily.
Event presentation also got a useful run through with the athletes rehearsing how their counterparts will enter the stadium on the second weekend in September.
Of course, one thing that couldn’t be rehearsed or replicated was the atmosphere in the Mestsky which is anticipated to be electric when filled to its 15,000 capacity on the second weekend of September.
However, the families and friends of the young participants did a more-than-acceptable job of raising the noise levels on the sunny afternoon.
“It’s been wonderful being here in Ostrava for the last two days, attending the opening of the IAAF Heritage Exhibition in the city centre and then the competition today,” said Pittman. “I’m looking forward immensely to coming back in September.”
In what could be a good omen, Team Europe won the final event, the mixed 4x400m, and just edged out Asia-Pacific in the overall competition.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF