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Time-staggered starts make athletics debut at DNA test event

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For the first time in athletics history, time-staggered start gates were used on Tuesday (14) during the final test event for Dynamic New Athletics (DNA), the new competition format created by European Athletics for the 2nd European Games Minsk 2019.

Based on the Gundersen method first used in Nordic combined in the 1980s, the time-staggered start is an integral component of the winner-takes-all distance medley relay race called The Hunt.

The Hunt is the final of nine events that make up DNA. During the first eight events – 100m (men), long jump (women), 100m (women), javelin throw (women), mixed 4x400m, 110m hurdles (men), high jump (men), and 100m hurdles (women) – mixed-gender national teams accumulate points based on their head-to-head performances.

To ensure that the overall winner is not decided until the very end, each team enters The Hunt behind the time-staggered start gates. The first-place team is given a proportionate head start over the second-place team, and so on. Each point advantage in the preceding eight events translates into 0.3 second head start for the team with more points.

The first team to cross the finish line is crowned the overall winner.

“We are very pleased with the results of today’s test event and especially of the new start gates,” said European Athletics Vice President Libor Varhaník. “DNA is an exciting new addition to the athletics calendar, one that is highly competitive, extremely tactical and above all fun to watch.”

In April, 24 of the top teams in Europe confirmed their participation in DNA at the second edition of the European Games which are to take place between 21-30 June in the Belarusian capital.

The pools for the first round of DNA matches at Minsk 2019 were determined yesterday.

On 23 June, Match A will feature Germany, Greece, Switzerland, Hungary, Slovakia and Cyprus. In Match B, Poland, Czech Republic, Belarus, Ireland, Lithuania and Latvia will do battle. Match C will feature France, Italy, Russia*, Romania, Estonia and Slovenia, while Match D will pit Spain, Ukraine, Turkey, Portugal, Bulgaria and Denmark.

All group winners will advance automatically to the semifinals together with the two best second-placed teams. The remaining 18 teams will then battle for the last six semifinal spots in repêchage matches on 25 June, with the top two teams from each of the three groups advancing. The semifinals will be held on 26 June, with the final to take place on 28 June.

Athletes taking part in DNA in Minsk will have plenty of motivation to do well, both for their teams and individually. In addition to gold, silver and bronze for the best overall team, medals will be awarded to the best individual athletes in each of the 9 disciplines, for a total of 30 medals. Athletes in all DNA disciplines expect The Hunt, which has no Olympic Games equivalent, will also be eligible for qualification for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

With Tokyo 2020 qualifying opportunities available for athletes at the competition, DNA is likely to be one of the most popular sports during the 2nd edition of the European Games. For more information on the competition format and the qualifying teams, please visit

* Russian athletes must receive Authorised Neutral Athlete (ANA) eligibility from the IAAF