With less than two weeks to go until the IAAF Continental Cup, the teams are close to being finalised and many of the world’s best athletes are set to compete in Marrakech on 13-14 September.Team Africa‘s best chances of success in Marrakech are expected to come in the track events, and their line-up boasts seven athletes who currently top the world list in their respective events. Jairus Birech, the fastest steeplechaser in the world this year, will be one of their top hopes for the African team, along with world indoor champion Genzebe Dibaba and 3000m world leader Hellen Obiri.
Others on Team Africa are: African 800m champion Nijel Amos, world indoor 3000m champion Caleb Ndiku, African javelin record-holder Ihab Abdelrahman ElSayed, Ethiopian steeplechaser Hiwot Ayalew and Commonwealth Games double sprint champion, Blessing Okagbare.
The European team is yet to be finalised, but it will feature Polish hammer thrower Anita Wloarczyk, who yesterday set a world record of 79.58m in Berlin.
Other world-leading European athletes who will be invited to compete in Marrakech – based on their results at the European Championships – include pole vault world record-holder Renaud Lavillenie, Dutch sprinter Dafne Schippers, Olympic long jump champion Greg Rutherford, Dutch distance runner Sifan Hassan, Spanish high jumper Ruth Beitia, hammer thrower Pawel Fajdek and discus thrower Sandra Perkovic.
World indoor high jump champion Mutaz Essa Barshim, who currently shares the world lead of 2.42m, will be one of Asia-Pacific’s biggest hopes for maximum points. Team-mate Valerie Adams, who leads the 2014 shot put list with 20.46m, is another big favourite.
World champion Caterine Ibarguen, who earlier this year produced the best triple jump for six years with 15.31m, will be expected to bag valuable points for the Americas team.
She will be joined on the squad by several other world leaders, including US shot putter Joe Kovacs, 400m hurdler Javier Culson, world indoor 400m champion Francena McCorory, US 800m runner Ajee Wilson, sprint hurdler Dawn Harper Nelson, 400m hurdler Kaliese Spencer, Brazilian pole vaulter Fabiana Murer and long jumper Tianna Bartoletta.