The Asia/Pacific team for the IAAF Continental Cup in Ostrava has been finalised for the two-day team event in the Czech Republic on 8 and 9 September, with 26 Australian athletes selected to take on the biggest names in the sport with an exciting competition format.
The Asia/Pacific team will feature athletes from 17 nations with the Australian contingent the largest, with the next five biggest representations coming from China (15), Bahrain (9), India (7), Japan (7) and Qatar (4).
Ten Australian women and seven men will compete in individual events. In addition, four Australian men (and New Zealand’s Joseph Miller) have been named in the 4x100m relay team to represent Asia/Pacific, a Chinese team will represent Asia/Pacific in the women’s 4x100m and in the mixed 4x400m relay five Australians have been named.
Two athletes per event will represent Asia/Pacific, Africa, Europe and the Americas, competing for team points and individual prize money, with the winning team awarded the IAAF Continental Cup Ostrava 2018 trophy. Each member of the winning team will take home piece of the unique crystal trophy.
With no senior outdoor global championships taking place this year, this meet is one of the highlights of the 2018 calendar and will conclude the international season, which for many athletes started back in April for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
The Australian athletes who have had plenty of success competing in big meets in Europe this season and have been named in individual events for the men include; Ryan Gregson (1500m), Stewart McSweyn (3000m), Brandon Starc (high jump), Kurtis Marschall (pole vault) and Henry Frayne (long jump). For the women, Brittany McGowan (800m), Linden Hall (1500m), Genevieve LaCaze (3000m), Brooke Stratton (long jump) and Kelsey Barber (javelin) get individual spots.
Additional individual representatives include Damien Birkinhead (shot put), Matthew Denny (discus), Michelle Jenneke (100mH) Nicola McDermott (high jump), Lisa Campbell (pole vault), Alexandra Hulley (hammer) and Dani Stevens (discus) makes her return from injury.
A final quartet for the 4x100m relay will come from Trae Williams, Jake Doran, Jin Su Jung, Aaron Bresland and Miller (NZL). With the 4x400m mixed relay team squad comprising Steven Solomon, Murray Goodwin, Anneliese Rubie, Ella Connolly and Joshua Ralph.
Two-time world champion Jana Pittman, who was third in the 400m hurdles in 2002, has been named the Asia-Pacific patron / team captain.
Pittman’s role will be an important one, as the team captain will determine the running order of the mixed relay and select a male and female joker on both days of competition.
If the nominated joker wins they earn double points for their team. It is possible that Pittman may select in-form high jumper Brandon Starc as the Asia/Pacific trump-card/joker on the first day of competition. The other captains are Colin Jackson (Europe), Mike Powell (Americas) and Nezha Bidouane (Africa).
Each event is a straight final and the Team ranking is determined according to the ranking of both athletes representing each continent in individual events. Teams receive points in 8–6–4–2 format for each event.
There are additional format changes for some track and field events to add further tactics as athletes chasing points for their team, this also adds to the drama for spectators and broadcast viewers.
On the track, the 3000m (Gen LaCaze) and 3000m steeplechase will be an elimination race. All eight competitors run the first 1400 metres (three and half laps) together. After that, the last runner through each lap will be eliminated. As a result, only four runners will reach the last lap.
In the field events, each athlete in the long jump (Henry Frayne and Brooke Stratton), triple jump, shot put (Damien Birkinhead), discus throw (Matt Denny and Dani Stevens), hammer throw (Alexandra Hulley) and javelin throw (Kelsey Barber) has three attempts. Only the best representative from each continent will go on for a fourth effort. Depending on the fourth attempt result, only the two best athletes will make a fifth (and final) attempt, which will decide the overall winner. The high jump and pole vault competitions remain unchanged.
The Continental Cup was previously known at the World Cup from 1977 to 2006 before being renamed for the next three editions including 2018. For the years of the World Cup, Oceania competed individually with the team primarily comprising New Zealand and Australia, however over the last few editions, as the Continental Cup, four teams Europe, Africa, Americas and Asia-Pacific have contested the event.
The fourth World Cup, 1985, was held at Bruce Stadium in Canberra. The event witnessed a number of extraordinary performances, including two world records – Marita Koch (400m) and East Germany (4x100m relay).
Over the three decades the World Cup/Continental Cup have been held, four Aussies have won gold, Steve Hooker - pole vault (2006 & 2010), Craig Mottram - 3000m (2002 & 2006), Joanna Stone – javelin (1998) and Sally Pearson – 100m hurdles (2010).
Australians in the Asia/Pacific team for the IAAF Continental Cup in Ostrava
1500m Ryan Gregson (VIC, Nic Bideau)
3000m Stewart McSweyn (TAS, Nic Bideau)
High Jump Brandon Starc (NSW, Alex Stewart)
Pole Vault Kurtis Marschall (SA, Alex Parnov)
Long Jump Henry Frayne (QLD, Gary Bourne)
Shot Put Damien Birkinhead (VIC, Scott Martin)
Discus Throw Matthew Denny (QLD, Grahame Pitt),
4x100m Trae Williams (QLD, Daniel Williams), Jake Doran (QLD, Paul Di Bella), Jin Su Jung (NSW, Andrew Murphy), Aaron Bresland (WA, Dane Richter )
4x400m Mixed Steven Solomon (NSW, Iryna Dvoskina), Murray Goodwin (QLD, Brett Robinson), Joshua Ralph (VIC, Phil Moore),
800m Brittany McGowan (QLD, James Kaan)
1500m Linden Hall (VIC, Bruce Scriven)
3000m Genevieve LaCaze (QLD, Nic Bideau)
100m hurdles Michelle Jenneke (NSW, Ash Mahoney)
High Jump Nicola McDermott (NSW, Matt Horsnell)
Pole Vault Lisa Campbell (QLD, Ray Boyd)
Long Jump Brooke Stratton (VIC, Russell Stratton)
Discus Throw Dani Stevens (NSW, Denis Knowles)
Hammer Throw Alexandra Hulley (NSW, Bre Clement & Karyne DiMarco)
Javelin Throw Kelsey Barber (nee Roberts) (ACT, Mike Barber)
4x400m Mixed Anneliese Rubie (NSW, Peter Fortune), Ella Connolly (QLD, Gary Patterson)
Andrew Reid for Athletics Australia