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IAAF Continental Cup begins today

IAAF Continental Cup begins today

Posted by Shanelle Weir on September 13, 2014

Ukraine's reigning world high jump champion Bohdan Bondarenko, Russian Olympic champion Ivan Ukhov and Qatar's world indoor champion Mutaz Essa Barshim face a final showdown of the season at the IAAF Continental Cup on the weekend.

With the weather in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh forecast to be perfect for jumping, the highly anticipated high jump will also feature Canadian Derek Drouin and American Erik Kynard.

It will be a real bonus for the Continental Cup, a four-yearly event that replaced the Athletics World Cup (1997-2006) with the first edition held in Croatia in 2010, that all the main protagonists in the field's most gripping event this season will be trackside in their bid to break Cuban Javier Sotomayor's 21-year-old world record of 2.45m.

Barshim seems most likely to better that record, the 23-year-old going clear at 2.43m in the Diamond League meet in Brussels last week to become the second highest jumper of all-time.

"Of course it's possible to beat the record because it was set by a human. I just don't know when!" said the 23-year-old Barshim of Sotomayor's world best mark, set in Salamanca in 1993.

The Continental Cup involves teams from Africa, the Americas, Asia-Pacific and Europe, with organisers the IAAF paying out US$2.9 million in prize money.

Each team are allowed to enter two athletes in each event, with only one athlete from any one country allowed to compete in each individual event.

The only athlete to have set a world record this year will also be on show in Morocco: Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie competing in the men's pole vault as part of the title-defending Europe team.

"The season's long and it's starting to drag but the conditions are beginning to be good," said Lavillenie, who vaulted 6.16m in February to better Sergey Bubka's long-standing record by 1cm.

"So I'm not ruling out vaulting 6m. My goal will be firstly to win at 5.80 or 5.90m. But the cherry on the cake would be 6m. And after that, finally some holidays!"

Other big names involved include African team members Nijel Amos of Botswana (800m), Kenyan Jairus Birech (3000m steeplechase) and Ethiopians Mohammed Aman (800m) and Genzebe Dibaba (3000m).

Jamaica's Veronica Campbell Brown will face stiff competition in the shape of Nigerian Blessing Okagbare and Dutch flyer Dafne Schippers in the women's 100m.

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