Bolt eager to show speed at Racers Grand Prix
Speaking at the launch of the inaugural Racers Grand Prix yesterday, club patriarch Glen Mills is promising a meet with a difference, while his top draw, Usain Bolt, says he will be using the June 11 event to show his readiness ahead of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
"I'm looking forward to it, I am excited. I don't get to compete here that often, so the fact that I will be competing this year is a motivation to work even harder to make sure that I will be in top form and run fast times to show the country that I am ready to go to Rio and do big things," Bolt told The Gleaner after yesterday's launch at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel.
"This helps a lot of athletes; a lot of athletes really want to compete here. I think it's a well-positioned meet because it's just before the trials, so they can go out and compete and know where they are just before the trials, so it will be the right time for me," he added.
A long-time ambition of Mills, the IAAF Area Permit-certified Racers Grand Prix - which gets under way at 6:30 p.m. inside the National Stadium just a few weeks before the National Senior Championships, the Olympic trials - will boast some of the biggest names in local and international track and field, including Bolt.
Mills, the driving force behind Racers Track Club, promised that the meet will bring together the largest collection of Olympic and World Championships medallists ever to compete on our shores, and believes it will serve as a catalyst for the formation of a regional circuit of international athletics meetings.
Organisers are expecting the participation of 112 athletes in 15 events - the 100m, 200m, 300m, 400m, 110m hurdles, 400m hurdles, javelin, and discus for male athletes, and the 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 100m hurdles, high jump, and triple jump for females.
In addition to local stars Bolt, Yohan Blake, Asafa Powell, Danielle Williams, Warren Weir, Hansle Parchment and Rasheed Dwyer, several international standouts such as 400m World Champion Wayde van Niekerk (South Africa); American stars LaShawn Merritt, Jason Richardson, Queen Harrison, Lolo Jones, Tori Bowie and Isaiah Young; Caribbean standouts Shaunae Miller, Michelle-Lee Ahye, and Kelly-Ann Baptiste; plus Great Britain's Zharnel Hughes, are among the confirmed athletes.
"We are currently having negotiations with several other big names in the sport and are awaiting confirmation from others who have expressed strong interest in competing at Racers Grand Prix," Mills shared.
"I am excited, I'm very excited about it," Mills added. "This region is the most powerful in the athletics world and boasts a number of world stars and emerging future champions in the sport. The potential of success is great and will bring meaningful benefits to the region."
Mills mentioned plans to broadcast the meet in the European, North American and regional markets, and hopes that its growth will help the club to secure much-needed technical equipment and facilities such as electronic starting systems, high-speed cameras for biomechanics analysis, and a treatment centre to aid in its continued success.
Newly returned sports minister, Olivia 'Babsy' Grange, welcomed the meet and believes it presents several benefits to the country's sporting brand.
"We are delighted and extremely proud that our country is staging another major track and field event of international repute," Grange said.
"The inaugural Racers Grand Prix is testimony as well as further proof that we are a major force in global athletics. It provides yet another opportunity for brand Jamaica as the world will be watching some of the best athletes on show," Grange added.
Organisers have promised to confirm ticket and entertainment package information at a later date.