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DODEA-Europe to debut new multi-event sport this weekend

By KENT HARRIS | STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 21, 2020

Whomever stands atop of the virtual podiums after the European Athletics Fitness Games season concludes in October might end up in very select company.

Not only is it the first time that DODEA-Europe will have such a competition, it might be the last if there’s a vaccine for COVID-19.

“It came about in response to the question: What are going to do if we can’t play volleyball and football?,” DODEA-Europe athletic director Kathy Clemmons said.

Football and volleyball are out this fall because of the coronavirus pandemic. Enter an eight-event team competition that bears at least some resemblance to a heptathlon or decathlon. Schools have an opportunity to field as many five-boy, five-girl or three-boy/three-girl teams as they can support.

Everyone on those teams will compete in the 200 meters, a 3,200-meter relay (without batons), pushups for 1 minute, standing broad jump, kneeling basketball throw, wall sitting, sit-ups for 2 minutes and a pro-agility test. Times and scores will be added up, posted online and compared against all other teams.

Some of the events are fairly standard to most sports fans. But others — throwing a basketball from one’s knees or sitting with legs bent at a 90-degree angle against a wall for as long as possible — are not typical events. Competitions will take place within 4-hour time blocks on Fridays or Saturdays beginning this week, with each school limited to one team in each category reaching the finals on Oct. 24. Athletes will compete only at their schools for the entire season.

Clemmons said only a handful of schools around Europe are not participating. She admits she’s not sure what to expect. But the goal is to keep students active while maintaining social distancing.

“It’s an opportunity for kids to enjoy the camaraderie of a team, have the opportunity to play some sports and bring some spirit to the schools,” Clemmons said.

She didn’t rule out the possibility of having similar events in the winter or spring sports seasons depending on the situation.

“Let’s take it one step at a time like we’re doing with everything else,” she said. “We’ll see.”

harris.kent@stripes.com
Twitter: @kharris4stripes