Sport

McCook happy that World Relays will debut in region

BY ANDREW HANCEL Observer writer

Friday, August 31, 2012    

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NEVILLE 'Teddy' McCook, president of the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC), is delighted the IAAF World Relays will debut in the region.

"We're extremely happy because we had all the support from our council members from this region," McCook said. "I think it's a big plus that an event like this being launch for the first time is being launched in our region," he said.

Earlier this week, world governing body, the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF), announced via a press release that it had established the IAAF World Relays, with the first two stagings in May 2014 and 2015s set for the Bahamas.

"It's not often that we have this in our region, but if you look at the dominance of sprinting over the years, it resides in our region and I think we deserved it," McCook told the Jamaica Observer Wednesday.

The event will run for two days and is expected to bring together the finest sprinters in the history of the sport, with the traditional 4x100 and 4x400 being the marquee attractions.

In addition, the IAAF Council has listed on its schedule the 4x200, 4x800 and perhaps, for the first time ever, the 4x1500 which could feature the likes of Kenyans David Rudisha — the world record-holder at 800m — and Asbel Kiprop — the 2008 and 2009 Olympic and world champion — as well as and Algerian Taoufik Makhloufi, the reigning Olympic champion over the distance.

Relays have been one of the most exciting events in the history of athletics as they showcase the fastest humans on the planet.

In the last four years, the world record for the Men's 4x100m has been lowered on three occasions by Jamaican teams led by the iconic Usain Bolt, the fastest sprinter of all time.

In anticipation of seeing Bolt and company, the IAAF is hoping the World Relays will become a main attraction on its calendar.

"The wonderful athletics competition in London has not only reinforced the appeal of our sport, but specifically, the popularity of relays, which the spectators find dramatic and exciting.

"We're confident that this new special event at the beginning of the season will really help us promote the sport futher," IAAF president Lamine Diack said in the release.

Approximately US$1.4 million in prize money will be made available to athletes.

Set to take place a year apart, the Bahamas will be the focus point for the track and field world, with its likely success likely to spread around the world.

"I'm sure if this business takes off somebody from Australia and Europe would want to bid. I'm convinced of that. Any event like that that will create a degree of excitement and is bound to have interest," McCook said.

"People like in Australia are not going be too concerned whether there's an Australia team or not; they're going to be concerned about the effect of the promotion in their territory," McCook emphasised.

He noted that NACAC countries like the United States, Canada and Jamaica will also have strong cases should they offer bids to host the World Relays.

"You have to pitch your event were you think you will get support," said Jamaican McCook.

"Right now, I think you'll always get a country in the Americas region that will sponsor this event because it's the strength of athletics."

The World Relays will be used as a qualifier for some teams for the World Championships and the Olympic Games, the IAAF stated.

Currently, there are 212 IAAF member countries and logistics may create hiccups for the governing body. But that is not necessarily so, said McCook, who suggested such a proposition is unlikely.

The IAAF Council Member since 1999 said: "If the entire IAAF family is to participate, there would not be a problem. You could run it like the Gibson Relays where it's the eight fastest times thaat reach the final.

"There's no semi-final, so every race will be treated as a final, but this all depends on the amount of entries you have," he explained.

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