By Owen Morgan
Patrick Swan sees Saturday’s Dynamic New Athletics (DNA) event in Glasgow as the sport’s equivalent of rugby’s Six Nations.
Swan can’t wait to pull on the Welsh vest against England, Scotland, Ireland, Spain and Turkey.
The big shot-putter, who would be a huge asset strength-wise in any scrum, told Dai Sport: “Technically, it’s like the Six Nations in rugby. You’ve got to be pumped for it. I’m pumped and excited.”
The shot put within the DNA international at the Emirate Arena will be different from normal events as competitors will be drawn head to head.
Swan said: “It’s going be a little bit weird, a little bit alien, but you’ve just got to try and stay in your own headspace and get on with it.”
The DNA format will see each 18-strong team compete in a fast-paced schedule over a two-hour period, with only one event taking place at a time.
There are 11 events in total, with each track discipline then immediately followed by a field competition.
The afternoon kicks off with the mixed 4x400m, with track events varying from the 800m and mixed 2x2x200m to the two sets of 60m and 60m hurdles races.
The field events include two sets of shot put, high jump and long jump.
Over the 11 events, teams will accumulate points. 12 points will be awarded for first place, 10 points for second, eight points for third, six points for fourth, four points for fifth and then two points for sixth. Even the athlete who finishes in last place will still contribute to their team’s overall score.
After 10 events, the scoring will determine the starting positions of the last event, The Hunt.
Each point difference between the teams in the standings translates into 0.33 seconds of distance gap for the start of The Hunt race. The leading team after 10 events starts from lane one for the 800m, the second team from lane two and so on.
The winner of The Hunt, a race which sees four mixed runners from each team – over 800m (women), 600m (men), 400m (women) and then 200m (men) – battle it out, determines the DNA champion.
One of the Welsh in the team who will be competing in The Hunt is Caryl Granville, who will also compete in the 60m hurdles.
However, the Swansea Valley Harrier isn’t daunted by the challenge. “The Hunt, for anyone who doesn’t know, is an 800, 600, 400, 200 medley relay, and I’m going to do the 400.
“It suits me down to the ground. I love chasing in a relay, I usually hunt people down so it’s set up perfectly for me. I’ll happily do as many relays as anyone wants.
“It’ll be interesting to see how it goes with the other nations if people gain head starts. It’s going to be amazing.
“I’ve also got the sprint hurdles the event before but I’m an ex-heptathlete so I’m used to it. It’s what we train for so I’m not too concerned about that.
“The concept of the event is going to be amazing. It would be nice to see it come to Cardiff one day as well.”
While looking forward to competing in the event, 400m runner Rhiannon Linington- Payne, Welsh Athletics’ head of competitions, will also have her day job hat on in Glasgow.
“I’m really excited. I think my last race indoors was 2013,” said the Cardiff Athletics sprinter. “I’ve had a lot of injury problems to manage since then. It’ll be really nice to get a run-out indoors, it breaks up the winter.
“Relays are always fun and obviously I’ll be racing with one of my training partners Owen Smith as well. It’ll be a nice little group trip away. I’m looking forward to enjoying the sport from the other side.”
As an event organiser, does Linington-Payne see the innovative format of the DNA event as part of the sport’s future?
“Yes, I do. You’ve obviously seen loads of other sports go down that route – cricket for one. So I’m really interested to see how the event goes from a work perspective as well.
“I’m going to try and take a step back and be Rhi the athlete for once but I am going to study the event, see how it goes. We’ve got the event specific style competitions, which are really popular. But we are looking at ways of making some of our events more team focused as well. So it might give us some ideas.”
The Welsh team goes to Glasgow in good form with Swan and Granville having won titles at last weekend’s Welsh Indoor Athletics Championships along with Rachel McClay (800m), Reece Middleton (400m), Sian Harry (400m) and Rebecca Chapman (long jump).
The team is captained by reigning European Under-23 100m champion Jeremiah Azu, who ran a 60m PB of 6.60 in Manchester two weeks ago.
They will face stiff competition in Glasgow with all the other teams boasting strong line-ups, not least the hosts Scotland, who feature Olympic silver medallist Laura Muir.
The full Welsh team for the DNA event in Glasgow is:
60m M: Jeramiah Azu, Cardiff Athletics (coach: Helen James);
60m F: Mica Moore, Birchfield Harriers (Lawrence Moore);
60m Hurdles M: Tom Wilcock, Northampton (Jerzy Maciukiewicz);
60m Hurdles F: Caryl Granville, Swansea Harriers (Darrell Maynard);
800m F: Rachel McClay, Bracknell AC (Laurence Kingsbury);
4x400m: Owen Smith, Cardiff Athletics (Matt Elias); Reece Middleton, Coventry AC (Stewart Marshall); Amy Odunaiya, Wrexham AC (Trevor Painter); Rhiannon Linington-Payne, Cardiff Athletics (Matt Elias);
2x2x200m: Arron Jolly, Cardiff Athletics (Helen James); Sian Harry, Belgrave Harriers (Bob Bridges)
The Hunt: Rachael Scott, Wigan & District (Trevor Painter); David Locke, Cardiff Athletics (Sonia McGeorge); Caryl Granville, Swansea Harriers (Darrell Maynard) Arron Owen, Cardiff Athletics (David Norton).
Shot Put M: Patrick Swan, Cornwall AC (Mo Pearson);
Long Jump F: Rebecca Chapman, Cardiff Athletics (Gareth Hopkins);
High Jump M: Osian Roberts, Carmarthen Harriers (Phillip Warwicker).
Team managers: Adrian Palmer – Team Leader, Chris Jones, Rhys Williams, Zoe Brown.
More information regarding the schedule and tickets can be found on the event website.
You can watch the DNA event live on the European Athletics’ Youtube channel between 1pm and 3pm on Saturday.