Dynamic New Athletics gears up for debut at European Games Minsk 2019
1 September 2018
A revolutionary new athletics experience is coming soon to a stadium near you.
At next year’s European Games in Minsk European Athletics and the European Olympic Committees (EOC) will unveil Dynamic New Athletics (DNA), an action-packed new mixed-gender team event built on tactics, competitiveness and grit.
Meticulously developed to appeal to new audiences, especially young people, DNA is a key element of the European Athletics Innovation Project, which was initiated in 2015 by President Svein Arne Hansen in line with his expansive “Leading Change” agenda.
“As a sport, we simply cannot afford to stand still,” said Hansen, “we need to be brave and take chances to try new things that can eventually bring us new fans.”
The EOC agreed in 2017 to support Hansen’s vision and is underwriting the development of the DNA format for launch in a knock-out tournament from 23 to 28 June 2019 at the Games in Minsk’s newly remodelled Dinamo Stadium.
“Let’s be clear: we are proud of traditional athletics – our aim with DNA is to keep the essence of the sport but present it in a new way, to make it more dynamic, more interactive and more engaging,” said Libor Varhaník, the European Athletics Council Member appointed by Hansen to be in charge of the project.
“You won’t see DNA replacing our championship format, that is our bread and butter, but it will give us a second product for reaching out, first to young audiences and then to young, grassroots participants, two groups that research has shown are motivated by the team aspect of sport.”
In a DNA match, teams comprising both men and women battle for supremacy in 10 intensely competitive events, selected for their audience appeal, that take place over just two hours. Unlike the traditional athletics format, a DNA match is a linear competition where each of the disciplines begins only after the previous one has finished, making the event easier for stadium audiences to follow and for television to broadcast.
The new format features rewired traditional field events in which athletes go head-to-head in individual knockout battles where every attempt counts: whoever throws or jumps further progresses to the next round – fall short or foul and you are out. On the track, the match is powered by sprints, hurdles, and a mixed 4×400 relay.
The climax of each match is a new event called The Hunt, a mixed-gender distance-medley race where the teams that perform best in the first nine events get a proportionate head start using the Gundersen method borrowed from cross-country skiing. At the end of the race the first team across the finish line is the overall match winner.
Only one team can win and it will all come down to the final event, every time.
Next year in Minsk there will be 33 medals up for grabs: gold, silver and bronze for the overall team competition plus gold, silver and bronze for the best individual athletes in each of the 10 disciplines.
IAAF President Sebastian Coe recently welcomed the project saying “I like what they’re doing [with DNA], I like it a lot.”
“I think it’s an innovative, thoughtful approach to try to ignite even more excitement among young people. It embraces the team ethic and for the younger age groups it embraces the fact that you are asking athletes to do a range of activities.”
The next steps in the project team’s preparations for next year’s the big launch include a DNA test event in Minsk on 26 September and a DNA Workshop for Head Coaches in Lausanne, Switzerland, on 25 October.