The Weekend's Best Matchups: BAA 10k and Euro Team Championships
Jesse Squire | On 20, Jun 2014
Can Germany win for the home fans in Braunschweig? Or will the Russians maintain their chokehold on the European Team Championships?
With the USATF Championships coming up next week here in the states and the World Cup garnering big attention elsewhere, the competition schedule is fairly light this weekend. I have just five matchups for you but they’re all interesting and worth your time.
Russia vs Germany
The European Team Championships are some of the more interesting meets of the year. As the name implies, they are team-scored affairs between whole national teams, men and women, across a total of 40 events. There are four divisions with annual promotion and relegation, and the top one is called the “Super League”. Once known as the European Cup, the meet has been reformatted several times since its inception in 1965.
The current coed format dates from 2009 and just two nations have won the top division: Russia, the three-time defending champions, and Germany. As the home team, German hopes run high to move up from their runner-up finish at last year’s meet. It would be the first win for a home nation in the five-year-old ETC format, and in fact the last winning host nation was in 2000 when the British men’s team won by half a point in Gateshead, one of the most thrilling competitions in meet history.
Mutai vs Sambu vs Gebremeskel
Men’s race, B.A.A. 10k
Back Bay, Boston MA
The B.A.A., the organizers of the Boston Marathon, started up a series of shorter races four years ago they call the Distance Medley. This is the first race of the series for 2014. It starts and finishes at Boston Common and traverses the Back Bay and Beacon Hill neighborhoods.
Geoffrey Mutai set the “world record that isn’t a World Record” at the 2011 Boston Marathon and came back and won the first two editions of the B.A.A. 10k. He’s twice won the New York City Marathon, including last fall, but might not be in top form right now. His last outing was a third-place finish in the Ottawa (ON) 10k.
The runner showing the best current form is defending champion Stephen Sambu, the former University of Arizona star. He ran 26:54.61 at the Prefontaine Classic, won the UAE Healthy Kidney 10k in New York, and the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10-Miler in Washington DC. He’s on a hot streak.
Sambu’s last defeat was to the other top contender, Dejen Gebremeskel, by a single second at April’s B.A.A. 5k. Gebremeskel also won the Carlsbad 5000, probably the deepest road 5k in any year, and won Olympic silver at 5000 meters. He might be best remembered for outkicking Mo Farah in a Boston indoor meet a few years back after losing one shoe at the start of the race. But he’s struggled at 10k, finishing 16th at last year’s World Championships.
Robert Harting vs Piotr Małachowski
Men’s discus throw, ETC Super League
Sunday, 3:40pm local time (9:40am ET)
Harting and Małachowski are clearly the world’s two best discus throwers. Harting’s lone loss this year was to Małachowski at the season’s first Diamond League meet but the German has evened things up since then. The subtext in this individual matchup is the team contest, where Germany is looking for maximum points in this event in their quest to win the title.
The ETC does things a bit differently in the field events. All competitors get the normal three trials but only the top four move on to the finals, which consist of a single attempt.
Barbora Špotáková vs Linda Stahl
Women’s javelin throw, ETC Super League
Saturday, 3:52pm local time (9:52am ET)
These two women split the last two Diamond League meets in this event, Špotáková winning Rome’s Golden Gala and Stahl taking the adidas Grand Prix in New York, and they sit first and third on the world list. Špotáková is the more accomplished thrower, being a two-time defending Olympic champion, but she missed the 2013 season while becoming a new mother. Stahl, a former European champion and Olympic bronze medalist, just broke her personal record. And there are two differing aspects to the team competition here–while Stahl’s Germans are trying to win, Špotáková’s Czechs are trying to avoid relegation after promotion from last year’s First League.
Kuchina vs Beitia vs Lićwinko
Women’s high jump, ETC Super League
Sunday, 12:45pm local time (6:45am ET)
Five women have cleared 2.00 meters (6′ 6¾”) or better this year, and three of them are here: Mariya Kuchina (Russia), Ruth Beitia (Spain) and Kamila Lićwinko (Poland). They happen to be all three medalists from the World Indoor Championships, where Kuchina and Lićwinko agreed to tie for gold. Kuchina’s Russian team is favored for victory but Lićwinko’s Polish team could conceivably pull off an extreme upset and win.
The ETC rules for vertical jumps limit athletes to no more than four misses in the entire competition, part of an effort to speed up the competition.