Track Shorts: Diamond League Final and Continental Cup

Photo from IAAF Diamond League Photo Gallery

From the parochial perspective of a US fan, the summer track and field scene has been pretty quiet. At least across the pond, they had the European Championships. But, we do have a few events to brighten up the late summer calendar. Later this week, the two-stage Diamond League Finals take place in Zurich and Brussels. Then in September we have the IAAF Continental Cup. Okay, maybe not the same cachet as the Olympic Games or World Championships but it’s what we have this year. Let’s take a look at the two competitions and of course, AB athletes involved.

Diamond League Final

The Diamond League recently changed the format from a final based on points accumulated throughout the season to a winner-take-all final. Each has its advantages I guess but I always liked the idea that the winner was crowned based on a portfolio of work exhibited across the whole season. The points collected in the earlier meets still matter – it’s the top 8 or 12 point getters (depending on the event) who get invited to the final.

The final is divided into two meets, with 16 events contested at each session. First up is Zurich on 8/30, followed by Brussels on 8/31. Certainly a compact schedule of all finals. Both meets will be televised on NBCSN. The Zurich meet looks to be live at 2 pm ET while the Brussels competition will be on delay at 7 pm ET. I’ll be right back – programming the DVR so I don’t forget.

AthleteBiz will be well-represented in the finals. Sandi Morris (PV), Kara Winger (JT) and Jeff Henderson (LJ) will be competing in Zurich. Morris goes in as the season point leader with the leading mark as well. But the field includes Katarina Stefanidi, Katie Nageotte, and Holly Bradshaw, among others so it will be competitive. Winger is 4th in points; she’ll be up against three (Lu, Khaladovich and Liu) who have gone over 67 meters this year. Henderson has had a good DL season and enters as the second leading point getter. South Africa’s Luvo Manyonga and Cuba’s Juan Miguel Echevarria, both 28 footers this year, wait for him in Zurich.

On Friday, Christina Manning (100H), Donald Scott (TJ) and Whitney Ashley (DT) toe the line or the runway. Keni Harrison and Brianna McNeal, with sub 12.40s are likely the hurdle favorites but Manning’s credentials are solid too. Scott has already shown his big meet bona fides with the win at the US Championships so we’ll watch with interest as he takes on a deep field in Brussels. In the discus, Croatia’s Sandra Perkovic has a season best three meters better than anyone else but some of the top throwers are missing from the field so maybe Ashley can pick off a good place here.

Those paying close attention may wonder why ABer Charlene Lipsey, equal 8th on points, is not in the final. Those nasty tie breakers again. Raevyn Rogers gets the nod based on a faster season best.

By the way, point of national pride, we see that the Prefontaine Classic was ranked as the second best of the DL this year, behind only Monaco. As near as I can tell, the ranking is based on the level of participation and the quality of the marks. So good on the Eugene meet organizers for that.

Continental Cup

The Continental Cup is an international competition that takes place every four years pitting four “continental” teams – the Americas, Africa, Asia/Pacific and Europe – against each other. This year the meet is in Ostrava, Czech Republic on September 8th and 9th. There are 17 individual events for both men and women, a 4 x100 for each and then a mixed 4×400 relay to end the event. With two athletes from each continent, like the Diamond League wrap-up, every event is a final neatly compressed into two days worth of action. Scoring is 8,7,6 etc for the individual events and 15,11,7,3 for the relays. Haven’t found anything about TV coverage yet.

Like the World Cup held earlier this summer, it can’t be viewed as a World Championship because of how the entries are determined. With each continent limited to two entries, some top tier athletes would be left out. But, also like the World Cup, some of the top athletes are passing this one by as well. We won’t trot out the soap box again but does that mean the event is any less worthy of our attention? Our answer remains an emphatic NO. These are quality athletes competing at high levels and fully deserving support.

Continuing our AB-centric approach to things, we note that five ABers are on the Americas roster. We have DL repeaters Sandi Morris, Kara Winger and Jeff Henderson. To that group we add Sean Donnelly (HT) and Lauren Paquette (3000). As of this writing, we can only find the African roster so we can’t comment on anybody’s chances in their respective events.

Did You Know…

John McCain, along with his other accomplishments was an important voice for Clean Sport and was an athlete himself.

John McCain boxed for the U.S. Naval Academy. A teammate once said, “He was not the most skilled, but he was the most feared … He never gave up.”

In December 2017 McCain said “The International Olympic Committee’s decision to ban Russia from the 2018 Winter Olympics is a welcome step in serving justice to Vladimir Putin’s government for its elaborate doping scheme in 2014. The IOC’s investigation and subsequent ruling reinforces years of reporting about Russia’s state-sponsored doping program, which cheated countless Olympic athletes out of the medals they deserved. Today’s announcement sends an important message to Putin’s Russia that being a member of the international community means abiding by rules, norms, and standards—and that anything less will not be tolerated.”

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