Over 100 Asian and Pacific athletes have arrived in Marrakesh, Morroco to compete in the 2014 IAAF Continental Cup this weekend. Team Asia-Pacific is unique with two presidents residing over the two continents.
The continents represent 65 IAAF member federations, nearly one-third of the IAAF associations and 4.5 billion people, about 61% of the world’s population.
During a team welcome Presidents’ of the two areas, Geoff Gardiner for Oceania and Dahlan Jumaan Al Hamad for Asia, spoke about the desire to work together.
“This is a very great moment if we look to the IAAF as a global Federation, the only two continents who are working together are ours, Oceania and Asia. This is a good example for all continents,” said Al Hamad.
“We are here to represent our continents; we are here to show unity I am sure that all of us feel that way.” Gardiner was in total agreement. “This is the second occasion we have worked together on the Continental Cup and it indicates our growing cooperation between our two area associations,” said Gardiner.
An example of how the two Continents are working together was outlined in a new competition plan for the regions. “We are working on the concept of an Asia-Pacific competition circuit,” said Gardiner. “It allows our top athletes to compete a little closer to home. We are looking at an early season introduction to the global calendar. We think it is an important step for our athletes, rather than them having to travel to Europe for competition. It is a work in progress. We are working hand in hand and the IAAF Council and IAAF President are supportive of our efforts.”
Two throwers have been named as the captains of the 2014 IAAF Asia-Pacific team. Competing in her fourth Continental/World Cup, Valerie Adams (NZL) was named the women’s captain, while hammer thrower Dilshod Nararov (TJK), Olympic and World championships finalist is the men’s captain.
The Presidents wished the Asia-Pacific all the best “The most important for us is not just to compete but do our best,” said Asian Athletics Association President, Dahlan Jumaan Al Hamad. “If you don’t make the podium this time, you will next time. I am really happy to see you all here.”
“I join with Dilan in wishing you the very best for the competition,’ said Geoff Gardiner, Oceania Athletics Association President. “You have been selected on world rankings and are capable of going toe-to-toe with the best in the world. I know you will do your very best.”
Talented young athletes from around Asia were officially welcomed to the OCA Youth Athletics Training Camp at Aspire Academy for Sports Excellence. The two-week camp is for athletes aged 16-17 and is being co-hosted by OCA and Aspire Academy, focusing on middle distance running and the long jump.
“I see here the future of athletics in Asia. This camp is going to be remembered because some of the faces in the audience will represent their countries in the future at events like Asian and World Championships as well as at the Olympic Games,” added Dahlan Al-Hamad, President of the Asian Athletics Association.
OCA representative Vahid Kardany said the OCA youth camp began in 2009 and stressed the good results of former youth camp participants at sport events such as the recent Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing.
“This camp will add a lot of technical values to the future careers of these young athletes,” he said. “We want to thank Aspire Academy for the opportunity to use these fantastic facilities; we want to thank the coaches for their commitment and everyone else who is involved in this camp in Doha.”
The OCA training takes place from September 1-14. The athletes are training daily at the indoor and outdoor track in the morning and the afternoon. They are supported by coaches and sports scientists of Aspire Academy who are collecting athletes’ data and giving the athletes and their personal coaches information they can use in their own training, both here and when they return home.