Before embarking on a visit to a remote Moroccan mountain village early last Sunday for an IAAF / Nestlé Kids’ Athletics event, most of the guests - including several current and former champion athletes from Morocco and elsewhere - didn’t know exactly what to expect.
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Commonwealth and African 400m silver medallist Wayde Van Niekerk has been a breakthrough star in 2014 and last weekend he anchored Africa to victory in the 4x400m at the IAAF Continental Cup.
The men’s 3000m was another contest that went according to the play book with Caleb Ndiku collecting a convincing victory for Africa.
World leader Nijel Amos lived up to expectations by winning the men’s 800m this evening, leading an African one-two as Mohammed Aman followed him across the line to give the host continent maximum points.
Not so much the IAAF Continental Cup as the champions’ cup of male javelin throwers.
This weekend’s most dominant performance on the track came in the penultimate individual race courtesy of Almaz Ayana in the women’s 5000m.
Maria Kuchina was looking to end her 2014 competition schedule in the same manner in which she had started it: on top of the world.
The Americas quartet boasted four of the six fastest women in the world this year – including the first two finishers in the individual 400m on Saturday, Francena McCorory and Novlene Williams-Mills.
South Africa’s Wayde van Niekerk closed the Continental Cup in perfect style for the hosts this evening when he anchored Africa home in first place in the men’s 4x400m, bringing the small but rowdy Grande Stade crowd to their feet as he held off the challenge of Europe’s Martyn Rooney.
She diced with disaster, and left it mighty late, but two-time European champion Eloyse Lesueur snatched long jump victory for Europe with a fourth-round leap of 6.66m after producing three fouls on her first three attempts.
As expected, Renaud Lavillenie was the easy winner in the men’s pole vault, earning maximum points for Europe.
With a late injury knocking defending champion Valerie Adams out to the sidelines, the role of favourite fell easily into the lap of European champion Christina Schwanitz, and she played it perfectly.
They won the first and last events of the weekend, but in between those victories hosts Africa could not hold off the might of the two strongest teams in the IAAF Continental Cup as Europe lifted the team trophy at the end of two days of competition in Marrakech.
Alonso Edward and Rasheed Dwyer took maximum points for Americas in the men’s 200m, both dipping below 20 seconds as they crossed the line virtually together in the closest ever finish at an IAAF World or Continental Cup.
Third behind Allyson Felix and Myriam Soumare at the IAAF Diamond League final in Brussels nine days ago, Dafne Schippers returned to winning ways at 200m.
He may be one of older throwers on the international circuit, but Gerd Kanter proved today that sometimes he’s still the best.
Breaking away from Dawit Seyaum’s late-race challenge, Sifan Hassan collected an impressive victory in the 1500m to further cushion Europe’s lead midway through the second day’s programme.
Dawn Harper Nelson has led the world list in 2014 since 5 July with the 12.44 she clocked at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Paris.
Two-time European champion Sergey Shubenkov won a three-man photo finish in 13.23 to become the first Russian sprint hurdles winner at an IAAF Continental Cup, and the first medallist since Sergey Usov was second in 1992.