London – The inaugural Athletics World Cup will be staged in
London this weekend with the IAAF and British organisers hoping the concept
will find a permanent slot in the calendar, despite clashing with other major
The competition comes from the stated drive of the
International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) president Sebastian
Coe to attract new audiences with fresh ideas, utilising a format which
provides non-stop action.
There will be eight competing nations, with one entrant per
team in every male and female track and field event up to the 1500 metres.
Points tallied up at the close of two days at the London
Stadium will determine which country lifts the platinum winners’ trophy.
Great Britain, the United States, Jamaica, South Africa,
China, Germany, France and Poland all qualified as the top eight in the medal
standings at the 2017 IAAF world championships, also in London, and will share
the $2 million prize fund.
“Each event is going to be filled with high-level
athletes and high-level competition,” USA shot putter Darrell Hill said.
“It won’t be super-long and drawn out. So it will be
short and quick and very elite. That’s probably the best format, so that it’s
And yet some argue the clash of dates with Sunday’s football
World Cup final in Moscow, and the concluding day nearby of the Wimbledon
tennis tournament, has left the new competition toiling to gain traction out of
the starting blocks.
As has the absence of a number of leading performers,
including the current top three in the men’s 100 metres world rankings,
Americans Noah Lyles, Ronnie Baker and Michael Rodgers, and British favourites
Dina Asher-Smith and Laura Muir, with Germany and China also fielding weakened
Additionally, a sponsorship row involving a number of shoe
companies removed some potential competitors from the fray.
Nevertheless, optimism remains. It is understood firm
interest has already been expressed by possible hosts for the next scheduled
edition in 2020 with a willingness from the IAAF to give the event an
opportunity to grow.
“We know it will take time to establish itself,”
said UK Athletics major events director Cherry Alexander.
“The response from other federations has been
enthusiastic and they’ve really bought into it as a long-term fixture.
“The athletes from the eight teams competing at
Athletics World Cup have around 150 Olympic and world medals between them.
“There are 28 Olympic and world champions, with 43
Olympic and world titles between them, so we know there is a huge appetite to
compete from the top athletes.”
Caster Semenya is primed to run three races in three days
with the Olympic 800 metres champion appearing at Friday’s Diamond League
meeting in Rabat before undertaking a 800-1500m double for South Africa, who
may be the favourites to triumph in London.
Double Rio 2016 Olympic gold medallist Elaine Thompson
spearheads Jamaica’s challenge with hosts Great Britain and Northern Ireland
captained by current long jump rankings leader Lorraine Ugen.
It might not carry the status of the other World Cup
reaching its finale this weekend, but with prestige and money on offer, the
battle for international supremacy will be intense, USA captain Queen Harrison
“Team USA always rally as a team and have fun,”
the 100m hurdler said. “But most importantly, (we) end up on top.”