The third edition of the World Athletics Continental Tour will blast out of the blocks this Saturday (January 22) in New Zealand’s city of Hastings.
The tour will cover the globe – in all six continental areas – from January until September with one-day competitions.
As the curtain-raising meeting draws ever closer, there is a sense of excitement in the athletics fraternity, with World Athletics announcing an expanded edition this year.
The inaugural tour in 2020 featured 28 meetings, which grew to 69 in 2021 and to over 130 in 2022.
A statement by World Athletics quoted World Athletics president Sebastian Coe as saying that the growth and success of the tour “lies in the fact that we now have an ever-growing number of high-quality one-day meetings, providing more opportunities to athletes and more extensive broadcast coverage available around the world”.
This year’s tour will be divided into four levels – Gold, Silver, Bronze and Challenger – with the status of each meeting determined by the quality of competition and prize money on offer.
The 2022 calendar currently includes nine Gold level meetings, 25 Silver, 50 Bronze and 50 Challenger meetings.
According to World Athletics, the tour is designed to provide athletes with more high-calibre competitive opportunities to earn prize money and world ranking points while reaching fans in nearly every corner of the world.
Two world records were broken in the 2021 edition, which drew 6,682 athletes from 147 countries.
Dutch Sifan Hassan’s world 10,000m record of 29:06.82 and Burundian Francine Niyonsaba’s world 2,000m record of 5:21.56 were among the highlights.
As many as 99 national records and 1,377 personal bests were also set across the 69 meetings of last year’s tour. An expanded edition this time around is expected to bump up these statistics.
“I extend huge thanks to the event organisers who have made this possible and joined us on this journey to breathe more life into the one-day circuit,” said 65-year-old Coe, a former middle-distance runner, who won four Olympic medals in 1980 and 1984.
“The introduction of Challenger level meetings this year means many more athletes will have access to Continental Tour competition, which will also be great for fans who will be able to see more athletes from more countries competing.”
Hastings will get the tour under way with the Potts Classic, a Challenger event.
Four days later, the next stop will be Australia for the Zatopek Classic in Melbourne (January 26).
The first Bronze level meeting will be the Sir Graeme Douglas International in Auckland, New Zealand on February 20.
Later in the season, the Gold calendar will include the Kip Keino Classic in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, the Seiko Golden Grand Prix in Tokyo (Japan) and the Ostrava Golden Spike, also in Japan.
The 2022 tour will conclude at the Gold level Memorial Borisa Hanzekovica in Croatia’s capital Zagreb on September 11.