Can Team Africa conquer the world at the IAAF Continental Cup?

The 2018 Athletics season will officially come to an end with the IAAF Continental Cup holding in Ostrava, Czech Republic, on September 8 and 9. The Continental Cup which holds every four years, will see athletes from all over the world,afr.jpg competing under four regions – Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe and the Americas. File photo: Nigeria’s Glory Onome Nathaniel (R) hands the baton over to Nigeria’s Emerald Egwim (2L) as Germany’s Nadine Gonska (2R) hands off to Germany’s Svea Kohrbruck (L) in the heats of the women’s 4x400m relay athletics event at the 2017 IAAF World Championships at the London Stadium in London on August 12, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV Each continent will be represented by two athletes in individual events, and one team in the three relay events – the men and women’s 4x100m, and the mixed 4x400m relays. At the end of the African Senior Athletics Championships held in Asaba, Nigeria, from August 1 to 5, the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) released a list of 77 athletes to represent the continent in Ostrava. South Africa had 20 slots on the team, while Nigeria followed with 16 athletes, and then Kenya third with nine athletes. Morocco has six athletes, while Egypt and Ethiopia both have four athletes, Botswana has three, and two each from Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Tunisia and Algeria. Cameroon, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Burundi, Swaziland, Uganda and Djibouti each have one athlete each on the team. The current format of the Continental Cup began with the 2010 edition in Split, Croatia, operates a system whereby male and female teams from each continent are merged to garner points for their continent. Africa finished 3rd overall in the past two editions of the Continental Cup, only ahead of the Asia-Pacific team both times. Team Americas won overall at the 2010 edition with 422.5 points, Europe was 2nd with 417 points, and Africa 3rd with 293 points. Four years later in Marrakech, Europe dominated the competition with 447.5 points to finish ahead of Americas (390), Africa (339) and Asia-Pacific (290.5). Although the outcome of some of the events are already quite predictable, Ostrava 2018 is going to be a keenly contested affair, mainly because a lot of events are for the taking by the continent most prepared for the opportunities at hand. Team Europe is expected to dominate events like the men’s 200m (Ramil Guliyev), men and women’s Hammer throw (Wojciech Nowicki and Anita Wlodarczyk), women’s High Jump (Mariya Lasitskene), women’s Discus (Sandra Perkovic), as well as the men’s Javelin, where Olympic Champion – Germany’s Thomas Rohler, and newly-crowned European Champion Jakub Vadlejch, come as favourites. Team Asia/Pacific will be banking on the second ever fastest man in the 400m Hurdles, Abderrahman Samba of Qatar who has remained undefeated in the event this year. They can also count on Qatar’s Abdalelah Haroun and Bahrain’s Salwa Eid Naser in the men and women’s 400m respectively; China’s Lijiao Gong in the women’s Shot Put, and Bahraini Birhanu Balew in the men’s 3000m. Team Americas will be the ones to beat in the men’s 100m (Noah Lyles), women’s 200m (Shaunae-Miller Uibo and Shericka Jackson), 100m Hurdles (Kendra Harrison), 400m Hurdles (Shamier Little), and men and women’s Triple Jump (Chris Taylor and Caterine Ibarguen.

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