A happy Team Americas' contingent led by Mike Powell, Caterine Ibarguen and Christian Taylor

Team Americas were the dominant side on Day 1 of the 2018 IAAF Continental Cup in Ostrava, leading the halfway stage with a massive 135 points after participating in 19 events.

It was a straight contest with Team Europe who finished 2nd on Day 1 with 123 points, but having scooped double wins in the women and men’s 4x100m relays respectively, Team America pulled clear to strengthen their lead. Team Asia-Pacific are 3rd with 89 points and Team Africa 4th in 74 points.

Although there were new scoring rules prior to the competition, it didn’t the deter the athletes who put up impressive performances in their events, and they produced a lot of Championships Records (CR) at the Ostrava Mestsky Stadium.

With Africa yet to win any event after three had been completed, Marie Josee Ta Lou who is the continent’s Rep, led by example, holding off Dina Asher-Smith to win the women’s 100m in 11.14s. Asher-Smith finished 2nd in 11.16s Team Americas’ Jenna Prandini 3rd in 11.21s.

Former world champion, Alonso Edward was the surprise winner in the men’s 200m, covering up on Ramil Guliyev to win in 20.19s. Guliyev was 2nd in 20.28s & Alex Quinonez 3rd in 20.36s

In what was one of the performances of the day, Salwa Eid Naser cemented her status as one of the best female quarter-milers in the world, breezing past the field to win the women’s 400m in an imperious 49.32s. In fact, the race was so fast that Caster Semenya who finished 2nd ran a new South African record of 49.62s. Stephanie Ann-McPherson was 3rd in 50.82s.

There was never a doubt if Abderrahman Samba would falter in the 400m Hurdles, rather it was a matter of how fast he could go. Samba did not disappoint as he stormed to a fast CR of 47.37s to take the win. Annsert Whyte was 2nd in 48.46s & #TeamEurope’s Karsten Warholm 3rd in 48.56s.

In the women’s 100m Hurdles, it was a 1-2 for Team Americas, with Daniele Williams the surprise winner, winning with a time of 12.49s. Kendra Harrison was 2nd in 12.52s and Pamela Dutkiewicz 3rd in 12.82s.

Kenya’s Emmanuel Korir produced his trademark gallop, tightly clutching on to his lead to win the men’s 800m in 1:46.50. Clayton Murphy was 2nd in 1:46.77, same time as Botswana’s Nijel Amos who was 3rd.

Team Africa had a 1 & 3 finishes in the women’s 1500m won by Kenya’s Winny Chebet 4:16.01. Team America’s Shelby Houlihan finished 2nd in 4:16.36 and Morocco’s Rababe Arafi 3rd in 4:17.19.

Sifan Hassan was the only Track athlete to win with a CR, and she did it in emphatic fashion, pulling clear to win the women’s 3000m in 8:27.50. Ethiopia’s Senbere Teferi raced to a new Personal Best of 8:32.49 to finish 2nd and Hellen Obiri 3rd in 8:36.20.

In the men’s 3000m Steeplechase, Soufianne El Bakkali couldn’t finish after injuring himself and having to withdraw, making the coast clear for Conseslus Kipruto to start entertaining the crowd en route winning in 8:22.55

Field Events:
Team America’s DeAnna Price handed Europe’s Anita Wlodarczyk a shock defeat in the women’s Hammer, landing a massive CR of 75.46m in her 3rd attempt to win over the World Record Holder. Although Wlodarczyk tried to claw it back, it was not enough as she settled for 2nd with a throw of 73.45m and Luo Na 3rd with a throw of 67.39m

Women’s Pole Vault was very thrilling, as the top three finishers all jumped the CR of 4.85m. However, Anzhelika Sidorova got the win as she needed just one attempt to jump 4.75m, while Ekaterina Stefanidi and Sandi Morris need more than two attempts to jump that.

No Luvo Manyonga for Team Africa in the men’s Long Jump, but there was no problem! His compatriot Ruswahl Samaai did the needful winning the event with a mark of 8.16m. In fact Samaai was the only athlete over 8m at some stage, as Miltiadis Tentoglou who was 2nd finished with a mark of 8.00m.

Caterine Ibarguen had no problems whatsoever in the women’s Triple Jump as she leapt a distance of 14.76m for the victory.

The new rules claimed a big scalp in the women’s Discus, with Sandra Perkovic falling victim of it having finished 2nd to Yaimé Perez. Although Perkovic threw an opening mark of 68.44m, the run-off with Perez saw the Cuban claiming victory with a mark of 65.30m which she threw in her 5th attempt. With Perkovic fouling, it handed the win to Perez as only the fifth attempt was used to decide the winner.

Team Americas had a clean sweep in both the 4x100m relays, winning the two categories. The quartet of Ángela Tenorio, Shaunae Miller-Uibo, Jenna Prandini & Vitoria Cristina Rosa got their baton round to win the women’s 4x100m in 42.11s.

In the men’s category: Michael Rodgers, Noah Lyles, Yohan Blake and Tyquendo Tracey nicely teamed up to win in 38.05s.

Africa was unlucky in the two races, getting disqualified in the women’s 4x100m, and having to post a Did Not Finish (DNF) after Henricho Bruintjies appeared to have twisted his ankle just before he could hand over the baton to Simon Magakwe in the men’s event.

Athletics coverage was a discovery, having to move away from regularly writing about Football. Although it was initially daunting, but now being an authority in it makes the past effort worthwhile. From travelling on the same international flight with Nigerian athletes, to knowing you could easily interview: World Record holder Tobi Amusan, then Ese Brume, I have cut my teeth in this beat earning the trust of Athletics sources. Formerly the Content Manager-Sports at Ringier media Nigeria, Chris is a Senior Sports writer, Photographer & Community manager at Making of Champions.


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