The Match Europe v USA pre-event press conference highlights

The Match
Getty Images

The ambassadors for Team Europe pose behind the trophy along with Team USA's Brittney Reese and Darrell Hill on the eve of The Match 

Team Europe ambassadors Thomas Rohler and Ekaterini Stefanidi, Team USA captains Brittney Reese and Darrell Hill and leading Belarusian athletes Dzmitry Nabokau and Tatsiana Khaladovich were among the athletes who attended the pre-event press conference for The Match Europe v USA in Minsk on 9-10 September.

Ahead of the first instalment of the fixture, they all shared their thoughts about the innovative competition which takes place across two nights in the Belarusian capital. 

Thomas Rohler on the responsibility of competing for Team Europe as opposed to Germany...

“It’s different because there is more talent in Europe than Germany even though we have a lot of talent in Germany so the responsibility is there and I really love the innovative format.”

On the head-to-head format...

“The fans love it. It’s just the way you present it to the fans so it makes sense - we’ve seen different format and I’m looking forward to this format and a team competition together with my rivals. This is fun.”

On competing in the Dinamo National Olympic Stadium...

“The stadium looks great today but the wind today was so bad so we will be in trouble if it is like that tomorrow but I’m really looking forward to throwing the javelin on a beautiful track with a good atmosphere.”

Ekaterini Stefanidi on how well she knows her US rivals...

“I know them all - I have not competed against one but I think we have a pretty strong team in the pole vault.

On her current form...

“I think I’m shape to jump 4.90m - we have eight attempts maximum rule and with Anzhelika [Sidorova] in the meet, I think we will push each other. I hope we won’t push each other so much so we run out of attempts but I’m physically ready to jump 4.90m.

“I would be OK if it doesn’t happen tomorrow and happens three weeks from now [at the IAAF World Championships] but it would be nice if it also happens tomorrow and then in three weeks I jump 5.00m!” 

On whether there are any divided loyalties in the Stefanidi camp as her coach and husband is American...

“I think I’ve converted him. Even if I didn’t, the rest of the Greeks did!”

Team Europe ambassadors Thomas Rohler and Ekaterini Stefanidi pose with the trophy
Getty Images
Team Europe ambassadors Thomas Rohler and Ekaterini Stefanidi pose with the trophy

Brittney Reese on the atmosphere in the US team...

“Team USA is ready. We are all pumped up - the team meeting is tonight so I’m pretty sure we are going to be loud and getting ourselves going.”

On whether there are any similarities between The Match and the US collegiate circuit...

“Most definitely. When you are able to put on the Team USA it feels like the college setting - we are all rooting for each other and want everyone to do their best."

On her strategy for the knockout format...

“I have not developed a strategy. My only strategy is to jump far.”

On preparing for a long summer season...

“Me and my coach have taken it a bit slower as the Olympics are coming up quickly after the World Championships so we are trying to perform better each meet. I’m getting into form and I saw a lot of great things in Brussels. I’m glad I’m here so I can work and represent Team USA again ahead of Doha.”

Darrell Hill on his first impressions of the Dinamo Stadium...

“This stadium is beautiful, it’s super nice. The only difference is we don’t get to train in stadiums like this in the US but we compete in stadiums of this size for the World Championships and Olympic Games. Stadiums like these bring out our best performances.”

On the importance of visualisation...

“I’ve always been a person who works towards a bigger picture but it’s more or less those days when it’s tough to wake up in the fall training when your body hurts and you need a bit of a reminder of what you are working towards - it’s those days when I’m able to look at my goals written down and see my goals, it gives me a boost of energy.

Dzmitry Nabokau on the significance of two Belarusian athletes competing in the high jump for Team Europe...

“I’m excited and it’s great there are two Belarusian guys competing in the men’s high jump. I have high expectations and I’m ready to compete at a high level and show some big jumps.”

On the vertical jumpers being limited to eight attempts across the competition...

“I haven’t really built up a strategy. I competed at the European Team Championships and I had only four attempts there so it doesn’t matter if it’s eight or ten jumps.”

Tatsiana Khaladovich on her expectations ahead of The Match...

“I am hoping for the same support from the crowd - even better than it was at the European Games. I am hoping to show my best form at this competition.”