Monte-Carlo – The process of selecting the athletes who will compose the teams competing at the tenth edition of the IAAF World Cup in Athletics in the Olympic Stadium, Athens, Greece on 16 – 17 September 2006 starts to gather pace in the next few weeks.

This week’s results at the 20th Central American and Caribbean Games (25 to 29 July) will be one of the major factors determining the composition of the Americas’ team, while the athletes representing the European and African sides in Athens will be selected from the battles which ensue at their respective continental championships in Gothenburg, Sweden (7 – 13 Aug) and Réduit, Mauritius (9 – 13 Aug). Yet Oceania has led the way having made its first wave of selections as long ago as May.

The Athens Olympic Stadium has for many decades been a dramatic stage of Athletics excellence having hosted the 1982 European Championships, the 1997 IAAF World Championships in Athletics, and more recently the track & field events of the 2004 Olympic Games.

In September the athletics world returns to the Greek capital for the World Cup, a unique global team competition, but one significant change will be noticeable to all who either competed at the 2004 Olympics or were privileged spectators. The stadium now has a ninth lane, and that extra asset will allow the Greek national men’s and women’s squads to compete against teams from the five Areas – Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe, Oceania – and the USA in both matches, and Europe’s top two nations in the men’s match, France and Russia, and in the women’s division, Russia and Poland.

There is nothing better than a home crowd to produce an exciting atmosphere, and with both Greek squads gaining promotion this year to the top European Cup level, and the high class return from injury of Olympic 400m Hurdles champion Fani Halkia this summer, we can expect the home stars to be inspired and perhaps even recapture some of the magic of 2004.

Teams competing at the 11th IAAF World Cup in Athletics

Men: Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe, Oceania, USA, France, Russia, and Greece.

Women: Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe, Oceania, USA, Russia, Poland, and Greece.