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The Super 8 Series

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14 April 2009

Article by Niels de Vos as seen in Athletics Weekly

UKA has announced plans for an innovative and exciting new format for elite team athletics in the UK – The Super 8 series.

The objective of the series, which will be launched with a pilot event at the new Cardiff Athletics Stadium on Wednesday 10 June, is to provide the best athletes in the UK with high level competition opportunities throughout the season, bridging the gap between existing club level competition and the international Grand Prix circuit.

What’s behind the name, Super 8 series?  Simple really – 8 teams from 8 cities across the UK in a series that will expand over time to 8 meetings, both indoor and outdoor.

Each team will comprise male and female athletes and each meeting will take place midweek over a 2 hour format designed to be fast, furious and spectator friendly.

Global research has clearly shown that regular exposure to the highest level of competition possible is one of the most important elements in an athlete pathway to transition from club athlete to international athlete, and UKA are taking the international lead in seeking to provide this level of competition in a domestic set up.  Other European countries are likely to keep a close eye on the initiative and it is possible that in years to come we will see similar formats being adopted elsewhere in Europe.

It is important to stress that the development of the Super 8 series is not seen as an alternative to the established and critically important competition provided by BAL & UKWL.  Indeed it is expected that each of the cities will work closely with the clubs in their area and to use club expertise in developing and managing their franchise operations.

Since the concept of Super 8 was first presented to the UK Members Council over a year ago, UKA has been working on the practicalities of creating the series in consultation with potential partner cities, venues, broadcasters, athletes, coaches and other competition providers.

This process has facilitated the timetabling and design of each event to enable all disciplines of our sport to be features in the series.

As interested has grown, a wider potential for the concept has also begun to emerge.  Home Country Athletics Associations have recognised a format that would translate into schools athletics where timetable and curriculum pressures make the 2 hour format very attractive.  The pilot event in Cardiff will be preceded by a schools event.  Local authorities have recognised the series as a vehicle to shape their investment into athletics development and the staging of athletics meetings which should give a boost to the development of the sport at regional level.

And athletes have welcomed the initiative because it gives them a new and exciting competition in which to showcase the talent and compete for serious prize money where otherwise none would be available.

So we believe we have the beginnings of a fabulous project.  If the sport embraces it with the enthusiasm shown during the planning phase, the Super 8 series could emerge as a central element in guaranteeing the future people and success of our sport post 2012.