EOC details new DNA format for athletics

European Athletics and the European Olympic Committees (EOC) have revealed details of Dynamic New Athletics (DNA), a new mixed-gender team event that will debut at next year’s European Games in Minsk, Belarus.

DNA will feature running, jumping and throwing events and is designed to appeal to new audiences, particularly young people. Teams of men and women will compete against each other in 10 events that will be held over two hours. One team will win the overall title and the victors will be decided in the final event.

DNA’s opening event will be the Track’athlon, a new athletics assault course that features a sled run, shot put toss, standing long jump, water jump and a medicine ball run for men in the first lap. For women, on the second lap, the Track’athlon will feature the same events, although a parachute run will replace the medicine ball run. These events form part of athletes’ training regimes but are rarely showcased in a competitive environment.

Individual contests will also be held in high jump, long jump and javelin. Whoever throws or jumps furthest will progress. Sprints, hurdles and a mixed 4×400 relay event will then follow, before DNA concludes with another new event, The Hunt. The Hunt will feature a distance-medley race where the best performing teams will be given a proportionate head start. The team that crosses the line first will be given the overall victory.

Libor Varhaník, the European Athletics council member in charge of the project, said: “Let’s be clear: we are proud of traditional athletics – we don’t want to change our sport at all, we only want to showcase it in an innovative new way, trying to be more dynamic and more interactive.

“We will incorporate new technologies and try to communicate about it using storytelling and narrative. All the research showed us there is huge potential so it is now upon us to be brave and take the chance.”

Marcel Wakim, head of new business development at European Athletics, added: “The purpose behind the new format is to appeal to a younger audience between the ages of 15 and 34. We currently see these demographics walking by our common athletics house. We see DNA as a new entry point, a new door, to our house.”

The 2019 European Games will take place in Minsk from June 21-30. The top 30 athletics nations in Europe are scheduled to compete in DNA, with the knockout tournament to be held from June 23-28. Each team will feature up to 17 athletes and six reserves.

A test event for DNA will be held at Minsk’s Dinamo Stadium on September 26.

The inaugural 2015 European Games in Baku saw athletics play a relatively minor role through the inclusion of the European Athletics Team Championships Third League competition. Athletics’ role in the European Games had been questioned with European Athletics a key stakeholder in the new European Championships multi-sport event, which concluded in Berlin and Glasgow yesterday (Sunday).

However, coming in 2019, a year before the Tokyo Olympics, Minsk’s European Games are in a better position to offer qualifying points for the Olympics and thereby attract a higher calibre of athlete.