MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) - IAAF president Sebastian Coe says he’s a big fan of the Nitro Athletics concept being showcased by Usain Bolt and which features mixed medley relays, sprints over non-traditional distances and elimination mile races.
Bolt has led the Usain Bolt All-Stars in a team competition against Australia, New Zealand, China, England and Japan for two nights, including Thursday, when Coe attended. Bolt is expected to run his first solo race - after competing in two relays - when the series concludes with its third night of competition on Saturday at Lakeside Stadium in Melbourne.
“I saw engagement, I saw fun and laughter and that’s what the sport has been missing for a long time,” Coe said Friday. “It was a terrific start. It’s an obvious thing to say but unless we innovate we’re going to become less and less relevant and we can’t afford to do that.”
Nitro was developed by former Australian 400-meter runner John Steffensen and Athletics Australia, while eight-time Olympic gold medalist Bolt is also a key figure and holds an equity stake in the concept.
The event - with Bolt headlining - is likely to return to Australia in 2018. But Coe says the event can work anywhere.
“I’m really pleased that these guys took up the challenge and ran with it,” Coe said. “It probably needed the sort of flair that has been seen in other elements of Australian sport to take this on and do it.”
“For me the next step is globalization in Europe and all around the world,” Bolt said Friday. “I’ve never been in a situation where I’ve had so much fun at a track meet, ever. I want people to experience what I’ve experienced. I want people to see what I’ve seen, to feel the energy.”
Bolt is expected to run in a 150-meter sprint on Saturday night, but other distances include 60 and 200 meters. The relay legs are over varying distances and alternate between male and female runners.
And the elimination mile features an entirely new concept - at the end of the first, second and third laps, the last-place runner is eliminated and must leave the track.
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