(ATR) Six countries, 10 events, men and women competing side-by-side in a team track and field competition, all with a champion determined in less than two hours. Fast, fun and user friendly.
Ukraine won gold in the DNA event in Dinamo Stadium (EOC)
Every point in every event is crucial to the team’s overall success in Dynamic New Athletics, therefore placing added pressure on competitors. A worthwhile experiment for sure, however athletics’ cool new format received mixed reviews from athletes at the European Games in Minsk.
“It’s something new, it’s something unique – I like it very much,” said Olga Lyakhova, who ran the 600-meter leg for Ukraine in "The Hunt" relay, helping her country to the DNA gold medal.
“I cannot agree that this is my favorite style – the points and new DNA Athletics,” said Lyakhova’s teammate Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk, who won the long jump for Ukraine, earning her team 12 points.
Ukraine long jumper Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk has her doubts about DNA (ATR)
“I don’t like this kind of format – it’s complicated,” she said referring to the modified long jump format, where after initial jumps, athletes are seeded and then battle head-to-head to determine final points.
Athletes enjoyed the camaraderie and were motivated by the team atmosphere of the new DNA event, in what is traditionally an individual sport.
“Everyone on our team is so supportive, so that makes this really cool.” Lyakhova said. “I saw the expression on their faces when I was running my leg, so that was very inspiring.”
“When you go on the track you think about the team and not just yourself so you can learn a lot here,” said Italian 110m hurdler Hassane Fofana.
Athletes from Ukraine, Italy, Czech Republic, Germany, France and host Belarus ran, jumped and threw in Minsk’s Dinamo Stadium at the Dynamic New Athletics event on Friday evening.
Dinamo Stadium in Minsk jam-packed for DNA Athletics on Friday (ATR)
Striving to appeal to a younger audience and spice up the age-old sport’s somewhat stale and lengthy programs, DNA, jazzed up with other bells and whistles, was well-received by an enthusiastic crowd. Belarusian, Czech and Ukrainian flags waved in the stands.
"At this moment, I think athletics needs new formats, so DNA is a good thing,” said Italian freelance journalist Mario Nicoliello, a veteran of the sport. “It is a good format to create a good atmosphere in an individual sport, but at this stage some improvements are necessary,” he said, mentioning order of event and a shorter medley relay to conclude.
“I feel like traditional track and field will never change – it is so basic and we’ve done it for like 1,000 years,” said German relay team member Oskar Schwarzer. “This new format is pretty interesting to get a new perspective.”
Ukraine athletes won the gold medal holding off a Belarusian charge in the final event dubbed “The Hunt” – a dual gender mixed medley relay involving two men and two women, and legs of 800, 600, 400, and 200 meters. After the first eight events were contested and points tabulated, a Gunderson format staggered start was utilized in the relay race so that the team crossing the finish line first wins gold. Fan friendly and easy to comprehend.
Ukraine’s gold medal winning time in “The Hunt” was 4:27.15, 0.67 faster than Belarus. Germany claimed bronze.
“I had the honor to start first in this race and I didn’t know what to expect because it is all pretty new,” said Schwarzer, who led off for Germany with the 800-meter leg. “I’ve never felt this happy to run into the stadium with my team cheering all of us on in the Hunt Relay.”
“It has a whole new level of team feeling because everyone counts for the whole team,” Schwarzer said of the DNA format.
Belarusian Vitali Parakhova pulls away to win the 110m hurdles (ATR)
The Belarusian team was loaded with the country’s best athletes ensuring a strong performance by the home team. Other than champion Ukraine, the talent level of athletes from the other countries was substantially lower.
“If all countries bring their best athletes, Dynamic can be a really great competition and more interesting,” Lyakhova said.
Prior to the relay event finale, the eight events – six on the track and three in the field – were scored 12-10-8-6-4-2. The field event format, after initial marks were determined in the long jump, javelin and high jump, involved athletes being seeded into head-to-head showdowns. Cool, different but a bit quirky.
The DNA format certainly needs time to evolve and be tweaked, but its European Games debut was undoubtedly a fresh and clever twist on an age-old sport that hasn’t adapted change in decades.
DNA at future Diamond League meets or World Championships? It seems most unlikely.
“For European Games it is fine, but for World Championships or European Championships, I don’t think it will have any momentum,” said Schwarzer.
“No chance,” said the Italian Fofana.
Written and reported by Brian Pinelli in Minsk
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