Five of the team captains, photo from British Athletics/Getty Images
Gong Lijiao of China, Anna Jagaciak-Michalska of Poland; Ninon Guillon-Romarin of France, Queen Harrison of the USA, Lorraine Ugen of Great Britain
The inagural Athletics Cup will be held in the London Olympic Stadium on August 14-15. Stuart Weir is there to cover the meeting, hosted by British Athletics and featuring teams from eight of the finest athletic nations in the world. Alas, it is a very busy weekend in our sport, and many of the key draws will be racing in Rabat DL on Friday, and the teams will feature a combination of veteran and new generation stars.
Athletics World Cup
The inaugural Athletics World Cup takes place in London this weekend. The summary is:
- 8 nations
- 1 Winner
- $2 million prize money
- 34 events
- 102 medals on offer
Eight of the world’s top athletics nations compete: USA, Great Britain & Northern Ireland, Poland, China, Germany, France, Jamaica and South Africa. The program consists of all eight field events alongside all track events from 100m through to the 1500m, plus 4x100m and 4x400m relays, spread over two evening sessions.
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of women getting the vote in UK all team captains are female and the event press conference was held at the Museum of London, with captains visiting the museum exhibition.
British captain, Lorraine Ugen, is very positive about the event: “I think the World Cup is a nice competition. It’s good to have another opportunity to represent your country and compete against the best in the world. I’m really looking forward to it. I think just having one athlete event will make for a quicker competition – just one race, straight final in the long jump. I guess they’re looking for a fast paced event. So it should be quick and good”.
US Pole vaulter, Katie Nageotte, is also delighted to be competing: “I’m excited about competing in the Athletics World Cup. I haven’t got to compete for the US many times so any time you get to wear the US uniform, it’s super exciting. I love the UK crowds and I’m sure it will be a fun atmosphere. And my boyfriend lives near London so he will get to watch me.
“The format of one person per country will certainly make it interesting. I’m not sure at this stage exactly who will be there which keeps you on edge. Being the only pole vaulter from the US certainly makes me want to raise my game to represent the country well. I like that aspect of it, the team aspect. While I’m the only female American pole vaulter I will still get to cheer for my teammates”.
“Gaining points for every place you finish is certainly an added pressure but I think you learn to deal with different pressures at every meet – if your competitors clear a bar then you have to clear it too. It is a pressure or motivation and it’s about how you channel that. I think I’ve got to a point in my career where I’m better at keeping the emotion out of it and just concentrating on executing my jump. Hopefully I’ll be able to do that”.
A weakness of the event is that lots of first choice athletes have chosen not to participate. Laura Muir, for example, told me that she and her coach had already planned her program for the year before they knew about the World Cup. GB champion at 1500m, Laura Weightman, also declined her place on the team, telling me: “The World Cup is a bit different but, to be honest, the timing doesn’t fit with my plans. On the back of the GB trials and running in Lausanne, it is a bit much [to do another event so quickly]. Also I want to be running fast in Diamond Leagues. I had set my plans for this year and unfortunately I couldn’t do the World Cup. It’s going to be a championship style race with lots of money up for grabs and we want to get some fast times before the European Championships”.
The event is the same weekend as the Rabat Diamond League with some athletes choosing to chase Diamond League points over the honor of representing their country. Some will run in Rabat on Friday and fly into London in time to run on Saturday.
There is another positive. With England going out of the soccer World Cup on Wednesday, it is at least nice to have another World Cup to distract us!