Sunday, September 9, 2018

Track and Field's Low Profile High Profile Championship

The Continental Cup

Copyright 2018, Mark Cullen/, All Rights Reserved

Majd Eddin Ghazel, Continental Cup, 4th place

photo credit: Getty Images/IAAF
"Mom, I qualified for the Olympics!"
"Mom, I qualified for US Nationals!"
"Mom, I qualified for the Continental Cup!"

The last statement has a resonance in Europe it does not have in the United States.

It was evident the very first night in Berlin at the European Championships: the palpable excitement of athletes who had just qualified for the Continental Cup.

In contrast, several US athletes at the national championships in Des Moines who, when they made reference to the Continental Cup, viewed it as a great trip and even better way to finish the season. It is certainly those and much more.

From Berlin, I recall best the excited chatter, the bear hugs with fellow athletes and coaches, the engaging interviews, all in the context not only of having just medalled at the European Championships, but of having qualified for Europe's Continental Cup team.

The team aspect of the Continental Cup is what makes it unique and distinctive. In a way that occurs in no other event, regional, continental, and team pride is on the line.

The Continental Cup needs a higher profile in the United States. This is a destination meet, one of the highlights of the schedule every four years.

Certainly, the format needs some work, as I noted yesterday (link below). It works better in some events than others, but it will be interesting to see today - on the second and final day of the Cup - if familiarity with the format will make it an even more engaging event for the spectators.

The profile of the event in Europe is high, and media from around the world are here covering the event: my friend Yujia Dao from China is to my left. Reporters from the United States are few and far between.

Let me send out the call for 2022: this meet is a highlight of the international schedule.

The Continental Cup is well worth the trip.

Anzhelika Sidorova (Eur/Rus)
Surprise Winner of the Pole Vault

photo credit: Getty Images/IAAF

Continental Cup Day #1

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