Already at the next weekend, the elite from all corners of the world will be heading to the largest global athletic event in 2018 in the Moravian-Silesian metropolis (north-east of the Czech Republic). Ten days before the start of the IAAF Continental Cup, held in Ostrava on 8th and 9th September team line-ups have been formed. Blue colour of Europe will be worn by four Czech athletes, Nikola Ogrodníková and Jakub Vadlejch, the javelin throwers, Simona Vrzalová the middle-distance runner, and Tomáš Staněk, the shot-putter, and – if needed – multi-eventer Kateřina Cachová will be ready as a reserve.
"I firmly believe that one of the nominated four can make a follow up to past successes of the Czech athlete," Libor Varhaník, chairman of the Czech Athletic Federation and the ICC Ostrava 2018 LOC, told the press conference today. "I wish you will," he said to the present athletes.
"I am looking forward to Ostrava, it will be the most gorgeous end of this beautiful season. My family, buddies will come to see, it will be nice," said Nikola Ogrodníková, who grew up as an athlete at the Městský stadium in Vítkovice. After Berlin, she said she had a little crisis when she needed to sleep until 11 o'clock in the morning, but now everything is normal again and there are two more competition ahead of the cup, including the Zurich Diamond League final.
"I had different vision of season, but I am very glad there is a rule of the hosting country," says Jakub Vadlejch, Nikola’s colleague from event, who was limited with his back issues in Berlin and unable to give maximum performance. "I have practiced regularly since European championships, even in two units per day," he said. We will also see him at the Zurich Weltklasse prior to the IAAF Continental Cup. "It will be a test, and then in Ostrava, an important full dot of the season. It's a great honour for me to be there. "
Also Tomáš Staněk expects "diamond" finals before Ostrava, and he – as both javelin throwers do – heads to Zurich. As he said, having overcome Berlin disappointment by the fourth place, he plunged into preparation. "Everything goes as it should now. These are two big competitions, I want to succeed in them, "he says.
"The nomination was a big surprise for me, which I am yet absorbing," says Simona Vrzalová more than two weeks after the invitation. However, the pleasure is great, because she usually prepares at the competition venue, and so she will have many close people in the stands. Simona is the only one now awaiting a purely training program. "We are going to Tatra mountains for a few days," she says.
Half of teams for the Continental Cup in Ostrava are already known, as regional bodies from Africa (CAA) and America (NACAC and ConSudAtle) have published their representatives last week. Europe (EAA) is fine-tuning last names, and nomination of the Associated Asia-Oceania team will be eventually clear after the Asian Games that are currently running in Jakarta, Indonesia.
The Africa nomination was mainly determined by the continental championship, which was hosted by Asaba, Nigeria at the beginning of August. The backbone of the team consists of athletes and athletes from the JAR, who are twenty, and Nigeria with sixteen, Kenyan representatives are nine. Caster Semenya, Marie Josée Ta Lou, Beatrice Chepkoech, Conseslus Kipruto, Nijel Amos, Emmanuel Korir, Akani Simbine, Rushwal Samaai, Julius Yego, these are the main star of the team.
This year's Panamerican Games did not take place, so the nomination is based on seasonal lists. Three dozen names - so crucial is the contribution of the United States’ athletes to the team, followed by Jamaica with eleven representatives. Noah Lyles, Kendra Harrison, Shamier Little, Paul Chelimo, Evan Jager, Christian Taylor, Jeff Henderson, Sam Kendricks, Sandi Morris or Ryan Crouser to name some of the U.S. athletes. Jamaica’s Yohan Blake or Fredrick Dacrese, Bahamas’ Shaunae Miller-Uibo, Colombia’s Caterina Ibargüen, or British Virgin Islands Kyron McMaster are the other expected leaders.
The invitations to the European team were given to the champions and vice-champions of the continental championship, held the second week of August in Berlin. At the moment, the nomination is not finalized, but we already know that there are 13 male and 13 female individual champions from the German metropolis. And two world record holders, Renaud Lavillenie and Anita Wlodarczyk. The team includes 20 EAA member federations (plus ANA from Russia). Czech automatic qualifier is silver medallist Nikola Ogrodníková, another three will get a chance to start with three wild cards for the organizing country.
Over the nominations of a combined team from the two continents, most questions are hanging because this week Asian games are still being held in Jakarta, Indonesia. But we already know that the Chinese sprinter Su Bingtian (9.92) and Salwa Eid Naser from Bahrain (50.09) starred there.
"We are trying to make one big sport event in Ostrava every year," says Mayor of Ostrava Tomáš Macura. "We consider the IAAF Continental Cup as an event of a century," he adds. "We want to show that Ostrava has long been not only an industrial centre, but also a city of culture and sport," adds the governor of the Moravian-Silesian Region, Ivo Vondrák. "And I firmly believe that a great atmosphere will be created in the stadium."
On sale are the last remaining pieces of ticket, the buyers should not hesitate to buy at Ticketportal (www.ticketportal.cz).