The calendar of athletic events for the year next year in Czech Republic is clearly dominated by IAAF Continental Cup, which will take place in Ostrava on 8th and 9th September, 2018. However, the athletic will be 'alive' in the north part of Moravia throughout the whole year - thanks to the project "Ostrava supports continents" lead by Czech Athletic Federation together with the City of Ostrava and the Moravian-Silesian Region.
The unique concept of a long-term competition for primary and secondary schools in the region started ceremoniously on November 16th, when draw ceremony took place at the town hall of Ostrava and all involved schools were allocated to particular continent. In total, 30 elementary schools and 27 secondary schools entered the project.
The project will be supported by the ambassadors and patrons = former international and nowadays Czech athletics stars. "The goal of 'Ostrava supports continents' project is to involve children in regular physical activity, because athletics is the foundation of all sports and this connection offers the chance. To be interesting for the children, it is certainly important that they have their patrons in the competitions - so we co-operated with four leading Czech athletes who have become faces of a school project in which they will engage in various roles throughout the year, “ explained Libor Varhaník, chairman of Czech Athletic Federation. "At the same time, we would like to take advantage of the fact that athletes from all the continents will come to Ostrava. The ambassadors of each school is a former leading athletic star from each continent who will be connected directly with schools. We would like the children to learn about the culture, habits, or life of athletes in different parts of the world and other aspects just in conjunction with our ambassadors."
Former world record holder in the 110m hurdles Colin Jackson became the ambassador of Europe became, the author of the longest jump in history Mike Powell will act as the ambassador of Americas.The remaining two continents have been split by two former world champions in the 400m hurdles: Australia and Oceania will be led by Jana Pittman and Africa by Nezha Bidouane. "I have been to Ostrava several times and I have always received a warm welcome and support from an athletically knowledgeable audience. That is why I am glad to return as an ambassador. It's an honor for me,“ Colin Jackson said. The ambassadors of the individual teams will be connected to the competing schools and have already sent them an initial letter of motivation to enter the competition.
Czech patrons of the project "Ostrava supports continents" are double Olympic champion Barbora Špotáková, world indoor champion in the 400 m Pavel Maslák, silver medalist from the European championship in the pole vault Jan Kudlička and junior world champion in high jump Michaela Hrubá.
"Every project that brings children to the sport is important so I agreed to be a patron of it immidiately. As a native of Havířov, I also like the fact that such a project is taking place in our region,“ said Pavel Maslák, a patron of Africa.
Jan Kudlička posed for the project's visual in a "fighting spirit” with all the three other patrons. "IAAF Continental Cup is a team competition, and the Ostrava supports continents will also be a duel of teams - just those of the schools," added the Czech pole vaulter, patron of Americas.
Barbora Špotáková became the patron of Asia and Pacific and the blue color of Europe will be represented by the height jumper Michaela Hrubá. Four Czech athletes will not only be faces from the poster but will participate actively in the various stages of the project - whether via video messages or personal visits to particular schools.
IAAF Continental Cup as the world's largest athletic competition possible to be held by the Czech Republic will take place in Ostrava in less than a year as a duel of the best athletes from four continents: Europe, Africa, America and Asia-Pacific.
"Ostrava is a traditional and experienced organizer of international sporting events at the top level. We have done this with the perfect organization and atmosphere at the IIHF World Ice Hockey Championship, ISU European Figure Skating Championships, Golden Spike meeting, Fed Cup or the Davis Cup ties. IAAF Continental Cup which belongs to the three biggest world athletic events together with the Olympics and the World Championships will be the sporting highlight of the next year. Ostrava will host hundreds of guests from around the world. I am sure that even in this case our city will work the organizing and host roles excellent. I am especially pleased with the accompanying event “Ostrava supports continents” which aims to actively involve school children in athletic and sports at all. And maybe there will be a talent that will compete with the best athletes of the world in a few years, "said mayor of Ostrava Tomáš Macura.
“We spend tens of millions not only for organizing sporting events of international importance but also to support clubs, regular physical activities of children, youth, seniors and handicapped. It is important for us to improve the conditions not only for professional athletes but for amateurs as well. Therefore it is natural to support the project of Ostrava supports continents. It is never enough of competitions and projects that supports the healthy lifestyle and positive attitude to sport. Specially as nowadays a lot of people complain that youth spend a lot of time with the computer and doesn’t want to do any sport. This competition will be certainly attractive for young active people and can bring to the sport even those that would normally not be interested in,” said governor of Moravian-Silesian Region Ivo Vondrák.
The Czech project “Ostrava supports continents" is supported by IAAF as well and thanks to the positive approach the best athletes from the long-term project will be able to compete in a special pre-program of IAAF Continental Cup on 8th and 9th September 2018 directly at the City Stadium in Ostrava. Representatives of schools involved in the project will certainly have their seats in the audience as well.
Ticket sale for IAAF Continental Cup 2018 is going on via (www.ticketportal.cz). Ticket prices start at 150 CZK per day, the highest category is 500 CZK. There are half-discounts for seniors (65+), children up to 130 cm or wheelchairs (their escort for symbolic 1 CZK).