The Match, by any standards, was a huge success. The Team Europe and Team USA athletes put their efforts into the meet and the fans loved it. The Dinamo stadium and staff gave The Match the authenticity that was desired and needed. And the event had big crowds, both nights. Belarus proved a worthy host.
Here are six deep thoughts on my An American in Minsk, column, part 2.
1. The Meet, by any standards was a huge success. First questions, how to improve? American athletes. In a non scientific study, meaning I spoke to USATF athletes in airport, lounge, plane and on walk to second plane. All athletes lauded the facility and the conditions. They said two areas needed in improvement: foot and wifi. One athlete put it plain and simple, : “want to keep us happy? Good food and good wifi and we will be very happy. “
2. Brittney Reese, updating us on herr 3rd place, 6.71m. “Just some issues I need to fix by Doha. I will go home and fix them.” Brittney is a 4 time WC and a consumate competitor. She does not screw around. She competes and she will have to, as Malaika Mihambo (4 August 2019, 7.16m) can attest. The LJ could be a huge event in Doha for women.
3. Ashley Spencer, a tough day in Minsk. Ashley Spencer has gone 53.11. She looked to be on such a pace at Dinamo on Tuesday night, September 10, 2019r. She hit hurdle 10 and she went down hard. 55 seconds won the 400m hurdles, showing that hitting a 400m hurdle has huge repurcrussions, and just how fit Sydney McLaughlin is, who hit a hurdle and ran 54.11 in said event. Ashley Spencer will be in Doha in two weeks.
4. The event in 2021 is already in the works. RunBlogRun has been told that Belarus wants to sponsor and host the event in 2021. The President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, is a keen observer of sport politics. The president of European Athletics, Sven Arne Hansen, the president of IAAF, Lord Seb Coe and Chief of Sports Performance, Duffy Mahoney, along with former President of USATF, Stephanie HIghtower were all therer. We understand that a quite lavish pre event dinner had many pleasantly surprised.
5. Team Europe won, as Europe had hoped …This late in the season, there were several athletes who dropped out with various maladies before the Team Match. Team Europe won because of their depth. Team USA won more events but the depth was not there this time. Do not assume that will happen again. Team USATF likes to win, as athletes and coaches will attest.
6. Crowds loved it. Monday night, a school night in Belarus was bizarre. Big crowd of 14,000 on Monday, but thinned about about 8 pm. Why? In Belarus, law is that school age children must be inside by 9 pm. On Tuesday night, 17,555 fans in stadium, and perhaps the law was looked at the other way. Promotion was very good around Minsk, and on TV. Saw TV ads in Minsk airport as well.