- Friday, 10 August 2018
Details of the new mixed-team, two-hour model of athletics that will debut at next year’s European Games in Minsk – entitled Dynamic New Athletics – have been released by the European Olympic Committees (EOC).
Billed by an EOC release as being an “action-packed new mixed-gender team event built on tactics, competitiveness and grit”, the joint initiative with European Athletics has been welcomed by the International Association of Athletics Federations President Sebastian Coe.
At the inaugural European Games in Baku three years ago, which took place at relatively short notice, the athletics competition comprised a Third League competition – the lowest level within the European Team Championships – that involved 17 teams from smaller athletics nations, including the hosts.
Plans were then laid by European Athletics – currently holding its biennial Championships in Berlin as part of the new wider European Championships also taking part in Glasgow – to develop an athletics vehicle that would sit more happily in future editions of the European Games.
“For the first time ever, the DNA of athletics – running, jumping and throwing – will take place in the same event,” said an EOC release.
“In Dynamic New Athletics, teams of men and women battle each other for supremacy in 10 intensely competitive events in only two hours.
“Only one team can win and it will all come down to the final event.”
Libor Varhaník, the European Athletics Council Member in charge of the project, explained: “Let’s be clear: we are proud of traditional athletics – we don’t want to change our sport at all, we only want to showcase it in an innovative new way, trying to be more dynamic and more interactive.
“We will incorporate new technologies and try to communicate about it using storytelling and narrative. All the research showed us there is huge potential so it is now upon us to be brave and take the chance.”
The opening event is the Track’athlon, an athletics assault course that features a sled run, shot put toss, standing long jump, water jump and a medicine ball run for men in lap one and the same minus the medicine ball run – but including a parachute run – for women in lap two.
“These components were included as they are often part of athletes’ training regimes, giving fans a rare opportunity to see them performed in a competitive environment,” the release explained.
“DNA has rewired traditional field events.
“Athletes will go head-to-head in individual battles in high jump, long jump and javelin where every attempt counts.
“Whoever throws or jumps further progresses.
“Super-charged team races follow.
“Sprints, hurdles, and a mixed 4×400 relay power the middle of the match.
“DNA concludes with another new event called ‘The Hunt’, a distance-medley race where the teams that perform best in the first nine events get a proportionate head start.
“The only goal is to cross the line first and claim overall victory.”
Coe commented: “I like what they are doiing [with DNA] – I ilke it a lot.
“It embraces the team ethic.
“It embraces the fact that you are asking to do a range of activities, particularly at a younger grouping.
“I think it’s an innovative, thoughtful approach to try to ignite even more excitement among young people.”
Marcel Wakim, head of new business development at European Athletics, commented: “The purpose behind the new format is to appeal to a younger audience between the ages of 15 and 34.
“We currently see these demographics walking by our common athletics house.
“We see DNA as a new entry point, a new door, to our house.”
In Minsk next year, the top 30 athletics nations in Europe are scheduled to compete in DNA.
The knock-out tournament will take place from June 23 until 28, with four competition days and two rest days.
Each team will feature up to 17 athletes and six reserves.
“There will be 33 medals available in Minsk – gold, silver and bronze for the best team overall, and gold, silver and bronze for the best individual athletes in each of the 10 disciplines.”
Before the Games, there is due to to be a test event for the DNA at the Dinamo Stadium in Minsk on September 26 followed by a DNA head coaches workshop scheduled for October 25 in Lausanne.